It isn’t easy breaking into the exciting world of food service; every restaurant wants you to have experience, but no one is willing to give it to you. It’s a horrible Catch-22 kind of situation. My first job in the restaurant business was that of a dishwasher and it only took me a several years to advance all the way to waiter. I got that first job with absolutely no experience because my friend was a waitress at the Sirloin Stockade and since I was only 16, the manager knew that I would do whatever he told me to do, even if it meant washing gravy off of a piece of chicken fried steak so it could be reused for someone who didn’t like gravy. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones who had a relatively smooth entry into the glamor of food service. But what about someone who doesn’t have friends to help them get a job? How do they get that first big break? Well, I can tell you how they won’t get it.
My boss recently placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a server, which either means he is getting ready for the patio to open or he is finally going to fire my drunk lazy ass. He got lots of responses, including several photos of girls with their tits popping out of their shirts, but the one email that got the most attention was from someone who has no experience but sent this cover letter:
hello im able to work any day of the week, I don’t have much experience but im very kind and patient learn fast my mom has been making me clean the table and wach the dishes for years i have been programmed to help people to be nice to people and to make them feel welcomed, to be honestive never had a job but i would love to use my life experience to benefit costomers at a business setting because the costomer is just as important as the establishment.
Okay look, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by sending a long rambling email that has only one tiny bit of punctuation. Of course my boss looked at this email and completely wrote off the sender because no matter how genuine the sentiment is, who the hell wants to hire someone who can’t spell the word “customer?” What is wrong with kids today? According to her resume, she graduated from high school, but do high schools let people graduate even if their final paper is written in text speak? Did this girl really think that an email like that was going to show her in a positive light? Her mother may have “programmed” her to help people but maybe she should have programmed her to know where the shift key is on the keyboard so she can use capitalization every once in a while. And it’s great that you know how to “wach” dishes, but it’s a real shame you don’t know how to spell “wash.” This email came from an iPhone and I can picture this girl riding on the Q32 bus with all of her friends as she applies for a job. “Ayeee, you guys shut up, I’s trying to concentrate over here and you guys is distracting me!”
If this child had taken the time to send a thoughtful, well-constructed letter, I do believe that my boss would have at least called her in to train as a busser. The intention of the letter was clear: she wants a job, she has no experience but she’s willing to learn. However, if you don’t have the mindfulness to at least make sure your email is complete, what makes anyone think you would be good at a job? When an employer has thirty or forty resumes to sort through, you can be certain the first ones to go are the ones with spelling and grammar issues. If you are looking for a job, you have to remember that the email or cover letter is the first and only impression that your possible future employer will have of you. Use Spell Check. Have someone else look over your letter so they can see it objectively. Sign your name. Capitalize “I.” If you send in a half-assed cover letter, not only will you not get the job, there is the slight chance that your email will be printed out and given to someone who will then write a blog post about it and you.