Job search from the perspective of a psychopath.
Another perspective on job search…
Today I spent some time checking out some other blogs and by happy accident came upon Funny or Die. The article that caught my eye on this occasion was “Cover Letter Advice from a Psychopath” by John Zachary Townsend.
I’m not sure why this particular article caught my attention. Perhaps it was because it was career related, or about job search, or perhaps it was the word ‘psychopath’. This hilarious article humorously illustrates the frustration that can be felt by job searchers. There’s some kind of relief in reading about another person’s dream cover letter that is succinct and gets the point across – albeit backed up by threats of violence and bodily harm.
At one time, I owned my own print shop in Trenton, Ontario for over ten years. A major portion of my revenue from this business was from preparing professional, executive quality resume and cover letter packages. Of the thousands of resumes I completed, I’d estimate that about 90% of them were targeted, career change resumes for military members looking at retirement and preparing for finding work in the civilian job market. I had built quite a good reputation because of my basic resume writing skills, my knowledge of the military culture, how to interpret highly abbreviated military and technical documentation, and how to highlight transferable skills as they applied to the position for which they were applying.
One thing about working with military personnel is that one meets a wide range of personality types, ranging from the quiet meek sort who is used to following orders and needs a great deal of guidance, to the one who has been in charge, is used to giving orders and having them followed without question, and who has the military culture so well entrenched as part of their own personality, they have no concept of ‘soft skills’, consultation or teamwork.
One particular example is that of a Warrant Officer who was used to both giving and following orders, as was the case with most middle or lower officer ranks. My part-time helper actually took this on and conducted the interview, etc. Everything seemed to be fine until she approached me a couple of days later to let me know there was a problem. This gentleman had taken exception to her use of the phrase “Dear Sir” and didn’t like the general conciliatory tone of the cover letter she had prepared. He wanted to use stronger phrasing and begin the letter with only “Sir”. I read the letter, was quite happy with it and told her so. She was definitely concerned about meeting with him again about this, so I offered to do so.
When he came into the office, I could immediately see why he frightened her. His demeanor was harsh, opinionated and authoritative. At first he talked over me as I tried to explain why this type of letter would not go over well with the majority of prospective employers. Gradually, I was able to interject important points, highlighting the difference in tone between what was in the letter and what he wanted in it. I also pointed out (nicely) that the reason he had sought me out was because he was out of touch with the civilian job market and had been advised to use our service by happy clients. I can honestly estimate that I regularly got feedback stating that clients were asked to one or more interviews within the first couple of weeks and a great portion of them were hired for the position.
The one thing I heard most from some clients was how discouraging it was to send out numerous resumes and cover letters and never get any response back. I know from my experience that the job search market is a cold, impersonal place with only the interests of the prospective employers as the main focus. The needs of the applicants are definitely of little or no consideration to employers. This article truly hits the nail on the head.