Success & Motivation – A Great Letter Dissed

This is not a job inquiry letter that I received. I found out about this from The Bad Pitch Blog. As  you might have guessed, the Bad Pitch Blog killed the author, a columnist responding to a job ad. I loved the response. Absolutely loved it.

I liked it a little bit because the author doesn’t pull any punches.  He says he isn’t looking for a low end paying job. Which makes it easy to either include or exclude him from consideration. As he suggests, he doesn’t want to waste time.

But the larger point and I think the key to why I really liked it is that it came from columnist with 30 plus years of experience.  In this day and age if you have been published for 30 years, you are stripped professionally naked.  Your entire body of work is out there for anyone to see. You can’t sell yourself as something you are not. Which is exactly what I believe the author is trying to say. Which I love.

If you have had your job for 30 years and your “work history” is online. If you have been doing business in an industry for 30 years and there are any number of contacts for me to talk to about you, I don’t want to hear a salespitch.  It is very analogous to hiring an NBA player.  A letter from an athlete telling me how wonderful he is and how he can help my team is worthless.  I am just going to watch his games.  If his salary expectations are beyond the pay scale for the job, I want to know it up front and save myself the time.

We all know that jobs are scarce. That people are losing their jobs or being forced to take pay cuts.  It means the volume of inquiries for every job is off the charts.  If you are a rookie looking for a job, you need all the bullshit you can muster, along with a willingness to work for less. If you are a grizzly veteran, your bullshit days are over. Everyone knows most of what you can do.   I want to know if you are willing to work for what Im willing to pay. If not, we are wasting time. If you are, if I like what I see online , then you can start with the bullshit of why you can do so much more than the body of work I saw online. Then we can see if you are the right person for the job.

If the author of the mentioned pitch was in his first job out of college or younger, it would be a horrible inquiry letter. For a veteran of the wars, feel free to send that letter to me anytime

Here is the letter for those too lazy to click over.  If you would like to see the PR company response, the link is on the website above

“As a journalist for 30 plus years and a newspaper columnist the past 12 at The Kansas City Star, I am eminently qualified to be your public relations specialist — despite no paid experience in public relations.

Frankly, if there’s a pr person above the pr specialist, I’m probably qualified for that job, too.

After all, I’ve been dealing with public relations folks from the other side for three decades as a reporter, editor and columnist. Don’t get me wrong. Many PR people are skilled at what they do. Yet many others are simply nice but don’t have a clue how to sell a story.

The former are usually former newspaper journalists. The latter are not.

That said, I would be happy to submit an application, but I’d hate to be wasting your time and mine if it turns out this is some minor league position with a paltry salary.

Yes, I’m not supposed to mention money. But we’re both adults and recognize that, in the end, that’s what it comes down to. I still write a column at The Star. I make a decent salary. I’m not looking for a pay cut.

I could submit my resume, but doing so would imply that this is my job pitch. It’s not.

The job sounds enjoyable. But I’d also like to know that it’s a good fit.

Thanks for your time.

Mike Hendricks
Metro columnist
The Kansas City Star

PS. By the way, my wife and I (identifying info) haved great interest in many of the topics in your publications, (identifying information).. Our book on (identifying information) in KC will be published in September by the Kansas City Star book division. (Italics mine.)”

19 thoughts on “Success & Motivation – A Great Letter Dissed

  1. Pingback: Martindale-Hubbell – irrelevant

  2. Look, choosing a job is a complex process and it really is more than just money. Money is important – no doubt, but if you don’t have the skills (e.g., you’re short and have no athleticism, but love basketball or you want to be professor but don’t have a PhD) or your lifestyle doesn’t fit with the job, you’ll end up very dissatisfied. And the plum jobs are highly competitive, so you need to be creative about ways to get your foot in the door, like volunteering or going back to school. Indeed 95% of the jobs that people find are through networking and not the newspaper ads. While an imperfect process, I do agree that the job search process is based on the premise that your past predicts the future. From personal experience, however, it is those bosses that had faith in me, and gave me a shot that created the best environment for me to excel.

    Comment by drpx -

  3. view:

    As long as journalist continue to believe “information has virtually zero marginal cost of production”. The road is not getting shorter.
    Everything we do has a “return on investment”.

    Comment by oneheartonemind -

  4. “Yes, I’m not supposed to mention money. But we’re both adults and recognize that, in the end, that’s what it comes down to”

    I’ve always wanted to say this, but never had the guts. Maybe after 27 more years of experience, I can! Also, I love the NBA analogy. Very on point.

    Comment by photography800 -

  5. Pingback: Basketball » Blog Archive » Success & Motivation – A Great Letter Dissed

  6. One Job, Thousands of Applicants. How would you, as an applicant stay one step ahead of your competition? I like Mike Hendricks’ cover letter. An HR Manager reading his letter would either like it or hate it. That’s life. Then just send it to the next prospective employer.

    I have done the same thing with my employment cover letter, and will continue to do so. Here’s what’s different with mine.

    I pitch my 25 years of work experience to HR Managers, and if they don’t like it, I pitch my business to them within the same letter! It’s an on-line tool to assist HR Managers in pre-screening their candidates – So what have I got to lose?

    Let me know what you think, below is my letter:

    Subject : Hire Me or Use Me!

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    In response to your career vacancy, you could either: hire and pay me a salary, or, use my services on the web and pay me NOTHING! Please allow me to explain.

    I have more than 25 years of solid work experience in the fields of Finance,Accounting, and Banking, as well as Information Technology. My demonstrated high skill set in financial analysis, reporting, general accounting, and budgeting will prove to be a value-add for your firm. As an added bonus, my considerable financial systems integration, business analysis, software and web
    application development, and project management experience are a definite plus in which your firm can take advantage of.

    Therefore, please find a URL link to my resume, or send me an e-mail should you prefer an attachment.

    As you can see, I just don’t sit down and wait for things to happen, but I create opportunities, and make things happen. Hence, I authored and developed a simple web-based tool for candidates to get that dream job, and a cost-effective solution for employers to pre-screen candidates. You, as an employer, can post a career vacancy, and select an interview question type that
    candidates would respond to when they use our Access-Anytime-Anywhere-Audio-Interview System! Please check it out at: (pronounced “haier-kyu-leez”, a variation of “Hercules”)

    I strongly believe that I would be a great resource for your company, and therefore encourage you to schedule me for an interview.

    However, should you feel that my qualifications and credentials do not appear to fit current requirements of any career in your company, please do consider using my candidate pre-screening tool at Built just for you, it’s like hiring an HR Assistant without ever paying a salary!

    And whether or not I am hired, here’s my personal offer to you. If you post any one of your career vacancies using our website, I would be more than happy to put it in our “TOP TEN CAREERS” feature – it guarantees home-page exposure. But hurry, I can only accommodate this offer to the first 10 employers.

    So either way, I definitely look forward to working with you!

    Yours truly,

    Edgar Enriquez
    Founder and CEO,
    “Job Interviews For Smarter People”

    Comment by hirecules -

  7. I like it. Especially when he states in his response that he was trying a different tact. If you are sending out several job applications, why not mix it up and try something new. It didn’t work, but it was worth a shot. He definitely sounded like a bad ass in the process.

    Comment by josephwesley -

  8. That guy’s just arrogant. It’s like he’s stooping to their level to make a few extra bucks. If he’s been such a great writer for 30 years, why is he in need a job?

    Oh, and I don’t believe jobs are scarce, no matter what the TV tells me. Of course, if you believe they are, then you’re probably right.

    Comment by soiquitmyjob -

  9. Pingback: Using the Right Executive Salespitch « CXO Footnotes

  10. Everyone is in the PR business. Promoting oneself through action instead of big words and hype is key to maintaining integrity and dignity in the PR field (my opinion). Many overeducated MBAs focused more on PR, their own, than results over the past couple of decades. Spinning numbers, overlooking bad performances, cutting corners, and dumping ethics was littered with glitter and show in many American companies.

    A book you may enjoy, while spending time at the islands :), is Dropping Almonds by Bach Anon. A more realistic and honest assessment of how arrogant and entitled many workers (at the executive ranks have become). I say less emphasis on PR and more time getting the nails dirty.

    Thanks for the post…

    Comment by gooseniceman -

  11. I’m assuming the company in question passed on this because an HR screener took offense rather than recognized talent. (And had the gall to leak the letter.) Someone should probably snap him up, a straight talking PR professional with 30 years of credibility and contacts up his sleeve. Sounds like a BIG find.

    Comment by Fred H Schlegel -

  12. “A letter from an athlete telling me how wonderful he is and how he can help my team is worthless.” I am going to use that quote later this week . .

    Comment by starwinar -

  13. I’m really surprised this blog not only printed the reporter’s name along with his original email, but that they also printed the reporter’s response. Isn’t e-mail still assumed to be private unless otherwise specified? Bad form.

    Comment by researchrants -

  14. Agreed, I thought it was a good pitch! What is the fuss about?

    Whoever reads that is either going to love it or hate, but what they’re not going to do is ignore it amongst the hundreds of other applicants. That seems like a good skill to have in a PR person’s toolbox.

    It’s not all bad for the journalist though, he should embrace it…he is getting some great free publicity for it. Many people have launched entire careers off controversy like this.

    Comment by krypton1 -

  15. Definitely a weak move on the part of the PR firm.

    I’d think that Hendricks might have some legal recourse?

    Either way I like the NO BS approach, however he could have used slightly more tact & gotten the same point across.

    Just my .02

    Comment by islandlifeequities -

  16. Reading Richard (the badpitchblog author) absolutely destroy a guy made me physically ill. Imagine jotting a quick email, trying to think outside the box, and it gets posted for public ridicule. Then Richard has the gall to call his 30 year career into question.

    I guess I should expect it with these internet losers without an ability to edit responsibly. Way to make the mighty PR firm anonymous yet bend over an individual trying to find a job. And Richard is supposed to be in PR. What a prick!

    If Mike responds to this can someone please link it. I want to know what PR firm would do this to someone.

    Comment by swtbobby -

  17. I can appreciate EXACTLY what this reporter was trying to do. We’re in dog-eat-dog times and whether it’s pitching a product to VCs, selling a product to a consumer, or applying for a job, sometimes it’s interesting to see the responses (or lack of) based on experimenting with various approaches. This particular company may have thought it the worst cover letter ever, but I would think they would want EVERYONE to present themselves honestly. There’s no such thing as too honest )ok maybe with clients, but that’s another topic). This type of pitch benefits the company FAR maore than the applicant. They know they are dealing whith a WYSIWYG appliant, and they either appreciate the confidence/cockiness or not. The reactions are definitely polarized, but regardless of your reaction, I bet use would either pass or hire this guy without even seeing a resume…resumes and referrences are for cutting thru the BS. You should see some of the crazy pitches I throw at the wall, and it’s baffling at what sticks. Try anything and everything to get noticed…THEN DELIVER!

    Comment by ericypb -

  18. Looking for a new or better job is a fireable offense, Rob? Certainly you don’t want a job search to interfere in any way with your production at your current job, but do you expect everyone who works for you will work there forever (or until you decide they should go)?

    Comment by jcrhoo23 -

  19. Just wondering how his editors feel about his shameless job “pitch.” Mark, if this was already your employee, how would you react? (If he was my employee, I might give him all the time he needs to improve his job-search skills. He’d be gone.)

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

Comments are closed.