Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Glenford Smith | How job hunters shoot themselves in the foot

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Many job hunters still make a basic, but egregious error when sending off their cover letters or résumés.

If pointed out, there is instant recognition and a shamefaced apology for making such a dumb blunder.

Think about the following scenario.

A real estate agent, so the story goes, was just starting out, and was very excited as he placed his ad in the paper. He wrote flawless copy of which he was exceedingly proud. He put at the bottom of the copy: “Interested persons may contact me at the number listed below”.

On the Sunday morning, when his ad was due to appear, he got the paper very early. He eagerly opened it and read his ad. Surely, his phone would be ringing off the hook today.

Then, he gave a start. There must be a problem, so he read the ad again. And again. But he then became flushed with embarrassment as the reality of what he had done sank in.

He had not included his phone number in his ad!

I’m sure you see where this is going. If you were incredulous at the realtor’s error, I would caution you. That is because we all make a similar mistake every once in a while. And we would want the witness to our gaffe to forget the error, rather than bring it up to our face unceasingly.

That is what this column hopes to do for a young man who made a similar faux pas. He he wrote a job application cover letter in which he forgot to sign his name. He gave the letter to a chief executive officer who happens to be my friend, and with whom I was working on a project. It wasn’t surprising that the applicant wasn’t going to get a call-back. He was not going to get that job.

The human resource director, CEO or other person tasked with reading that letter will interpret it as coming from someone who is careless. You will be dismissed out of hand. Right or wrong, that’s the way it goes.

There is one other reason this oversight likely occurred. The applicant may have been doing more than one cover letter, and forgot to sign his name on this one. That is another mistake that you should never make.

When you are sending your résumé or cover letter to someone, read it multiple times to make sure that you have crossed every ‘t’ and dotted every ‘i’ – and signed it. Lay it aside. Then do review again. Then get someone you trust to read it for you, and give you their feedback.

Applying for a job is simply too important to make an error such as leaving off your name and thereby shooting yourself in the foot.

Glenford Smith is president of CareerBiz Coach and author of ‘From Problems to Power’ and ‘Profile of Excellence’. Email