Dear Applicant: The reason you weren’t hired

Since April,  I’ve been advertising unsuccessfully for two part-time, virtual workers in my educational publishing business. The responses have been mainly from highly schooled individuals who:

  • Don’t know how to write an email,
  • Either don’t read or don’t follow directions, and
  • Don’t have a clue what skills are needed for the 21st century office.

I sent respondents boilerplate “thank you for your interest” replies, but mentally wrote letters I wished I dared send.

In honor of Labor Day, here’s a sample of what I would like to have said.


Dear Applicant,

Your success at raising fourth grade writing scores in your 14th year of teaching is truly impressive. Regretably, I have no need to raise fourth grade writing scores, and if I did, I couldn’t wait 14 years for you to do it.

Yours truly,


Dear Applicant,

Your one-sentence application was a model of conciseness. I’m sure you are the shining star of the English faculty at your college. Unfortunately, I have a policy that prohibits me from hiring people solely because they say they need extra income.

Yours truly,


Dear Applicant,

Your application was truly memorable. I cannot recall ever before having anyone include in a cover letter a 3,000-word article on how to choose a lobster.

Although the job will be filled by someone who can follow directions, you can be sure that the next time I have a job opening, I will remember your application.

Yours truly,


Dear Applicant,

Thank you for offering to come to my office to discuss the virtual assistant position.

Anyone who needs to discuss a virtual position face-to-face is not suited for the position.

Yours truly,


Dear Applicant,

With your two masters’ degrees and a doctorate, you are vastly overqualified for the virtual assistant job. The last person who had the job was a 14-year-old; she was overqualified, too.

There is only one position in my business that is a good fit for someone with your creativity and business acumen.

I’m not about to give it up.

Yours truly,

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