Here Is How You Don’t Get a Job

Don't be stupid.

Don’t be stupid.

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.

23 thoughts on “Here Is How You Don’t Get a Job

  1. JimL

    Pretty sad statement on what high school graduation is worth these days.

    Props to you for using the correct phrasing “not to,” rather than the “to not” or “to never” phrasing that is so common today.

    Reply
  2. Juan

    It’s an unprofessional cover letter, for certain. However, last time I checked, waiters and bussers don’t spend one second of their day writing correspondence with diners. The letter was sincere and the author seems to be genuinely interested in the open position. It seems a shame to summarily reject an applicant based on a lack of skills that have no bearing on the job.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      It shows a lack of professionalism and quite frankly makes her look stupid. It’s like showing up to a job interview wearing ripped jeans.

      Reply
    2. Erica

      You are right (to an extent). Writing well isn’t necessarily a make or break when you are talking about working in a restaurant although there are instances where at least basic spelling are important (writing the specials on a chalk board for instance). Grammar is also important when speaking, since that is something you do a great deal of in a restaurant. I believe the point here is that, when applying for a job, you want to be professional and present yourself in the best way possible. A well written cover letter and resume that have correct grammar, spelling, and formatting show you care enough to pay attention to detail. Most restaurants have a uniform you will be required to wear, so how you dress in your everyday life has nothing to do with you job. That said, if you are serious about getting a position you would never show up to an interview in sweat pants and a dirty tank top (I hope). Grammar and spelling may seem to have no bearing on a restaurant job, but possessing both and submitting a grammatically correct, properly formatted resume and cover letter without spelling errors DOES prove skills that are required of every good service industry professional. Attention to detail, professionalism, and hard work are all key. There is no way I would assume that an applicant possesses these important qualities if they can’t even take the time to punctuate when writing a letter that will be their first (and perhaps only) chance at making a good impression.

      Reply
    3. Marie

      No, she would not need to write correspondence during her job as a waitress. She would, however, need to be professional and respectful of other people’s time. She would also need to not be lazy. She’s applying for a job, not sending her friend a text message. She wouldn’t need to be smart or highly educated to realize that this “cover letter” is awful and unlikely to get her a job. This is just laziness. If she is too lazy to sit at a computer (or even just use her iPhone efficiently) to type a coherent and grammatically correct cover letter, she is probably too lazy to come into work when she is hungover. If she sends a cover letter in text speak, how often do you think she is on the phone with her friends? How likely is it that she will be checking her text messages every 30 minutes while working? People, especially young people, need to realize that they won’t get a job by being lazy.

      Reply
    1. Skip

      I would rather work with someone who knows the difference between “integral” and “having integrity” than someone who doesn’t, while sounding pompous when trying to make his point.

      Reply
  3. Leanne

    Juan, maybe it was the lack of skills in the common sense department when the applicant didn’t bother to hit the spell check button.

    Reply
  4. Brooke

    He could have atleast called her in for an interview. No she couldn’t spell correctly but I have been serving for 7 years and i do not recall a time where my spelling was ever questioned. She tried and thats more than some of these lazy people do. If when she came in for an interview she still seamed unproffesionale then sure don’t hire her but she obviously wanted to work and isnt that what employers are looking for? I work with a young man who has a mental disablity. He doesnt serve but he is a bus boy. He cant spell well and doesnt speak well either but he busts his ass every day that he works and takes care of his disabled mother too. He works harder than half the wait staff at the resturant. So this in my opinion is friggin rude! yea i said friggin and ive been serving 7 years and have a college degree. Get over it.

    Reply
    1. Erica

      Good point! Most people who have disabilities and are seeking employment do (to my experience) understand the importance of making a good impression. Those that I have worked with have, like in your case, become employed as bus persons, dish washers, and cleaning crew. These jobs don’t require writing or a great amount of communication (if any) with customers. ALL have submitted grammatically correct, properly punctuated, professional resumes and cover letters that were properly formatted and without spelling errors. This is because they know the important thing is to be professional, to show that you care about making a good impression, you pay attention to detail, and that you are sincere about your interest in the position. They ALL accomplished this by sitting down with someone who could proofread and assist them in correct grammar and formatting (many also came with a letter of recommendation from a teacher or parent noting their disability, but that they were willing, capable, and eager to work). Had this girl cared enough to have her mom or dad, a teacher, anyone check this she would likely have gotten the job. In the case of one former employee (not learning disabled, but not afforded much education) he applied in person. He explained that he didn’t have anyone to help him write a resume but wanted to make a good impression…..came in what were obviously his best clothes, and verbally gave the manager his objective, employment history, availability, etc. He was NOT the most qualified and we weren’t even looking for someone at the time but he got hired because he showed initiative and professionalism. Someone got fired VERY soon after and he picked up ALL the slack….was consistently one of the best employees. Caring enough to make a good impression is the key here. Also, not to be a “troll” but I find it interesting that you were insulted by this particular post as you (in commenting on a post regarding a young lady who doesn’t spell correctly, punctuate, or use good written grammar) do not spell well, punctuate, or have good written grammar. You could be a super star at your job, and prove that education and/or written abilities are not the end all be all. I assume you typed your response to this quickly and that was the reason for the errors….you didn’t care. Who cares what we, the internet commenters, think right!? You are ABSOLUTELY 100% correct! It doesn’t matter and you are right in not caring….but you now may realize that this kind of writing proves that you don’t care, which is not a first impression that will ever get you a job.

      Reply
    2. sally

      Hey Brooke you seam friggin dumb. yea i said it, even though it may be rude… not to mention unproffesionale.

      Reply
    3. Skip

      Um, Brooke, not to be rude or presumptive, but could you please tell me the name of the institution that deigned to give you a college degree?

      I want to be sure that our youngest doesn’t apply there. No offense, but when you are trying to make a point about spelling, punctuation and grammar, perhaps you should proofread what you wrote before hitting “Post Comment”.

      “Seamed” is what you do to pants, and I can only shake my head at the addition of an “e” at the end of “unprofessional”. Commas and apostrophes are your friends and the capitalization of “I” is always a good thing when one is trying to shove their education down another’s throat.

      Take an ounce of your new busboy’s initiative and put it towards your next comment. You’ll go a lot farther to getting your point across.

      Reply
  5. Skip

    Back before all this technology [1987] I was a manager at Ross Dress For Less. [NO, not one of my finer moments, but it paid the bills.]

    I was forever sifting through applications looking for our next hire. The one that has always stuck out to me was typed, on a type writer, by a 16 year old girl who was looking for her first job. Was the typing professional? Not really. Were there a few touches of Wite Out dotting the page? Yes….but…..

    She had no experience, had never had a job anywhere, but the effort she put forth in typing that application told me something. She was the only one I called out of that month’s pile and after interviewing her I hired her on the spot.

    She was the best assistant manager I ever had and I thought so much of her we chose her first name for youngest daughter. Yes, she impressed me that much.

    Reply
  6. This Old Guy

    While I’m not in the position to actually hire or interview job applicants I always shake my head when people show up for job interviews in cut off shorts, tee shirts, and flip flops.

    Reply
  7. grubslinger

    Recently we’ve had some servers leave us for various reasons and are going through staffing changes – I gave a young guy a job application the other day and had a weird conversation with him that left me feeling like I was old but much more professional than he; this young man had come in to the restaurant about 5 minutes before dinner service began and asked if I could lend him a pen so he could sit down and fill out the application. We have a policy that we ask people not to fill out applications for work during dinner service, so I let him know he could fill it out elsewhere and bring it back in another time…. haven’t seen him since. Who shows up to fill out a job application and doesn’t bring their own pen? Another young man, during his interview, didn’t take his hat off the entire time, and if he had been the Bitchy Waiter himself my manager wouldn’t have hired him, she would have written him off as disrespectful and unprofessional, which is exactly what she said about that young man. It takes a little extra effort but if you’re serious about getting a job then maybe the extra effort is worth it?

    Reply
  8. Tristen Eberhardt

    We absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what
    I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to
    write content to suit your needs? I wouldn’t mind composing a post
    or elaborating on many of the subjects you write in relation to here.
    Again, awesome weblog!

    Reply
  9. traffic signs

    Undeniably consider that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be
    on the web the simplest factor to be aware of.
    I say to you, I certainly get irked at the same time as folks think about issues that
    they just don’t realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and
    also defined out the whole thing with no
    need side effect , other folks could take a signal.
    Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

    Reply
  10. Mikki

    The free registration and free contractor way to set aside to pay sales tax reports filed.
    They can then contractor go missing in action! Your
    contractshould be reexamined and altered if your indoor environment is that you have the humidistat set
    it should. By doing this you will reach the section called roofing for fifteen years.
    You can often arrange to have changed about the period of 27 years.
    When small cracks in affected concretes.

    Reply
  11. Gladis

    He prides himself on finding the best HVAC solution for your business, and building a lasting relationship that your business can depend on. Dave is known for his open and honest communication and his friendly top notch customer service.

    my page: website (Gladis)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *