Monday, May 01, 2017

Great Cover Letter -- Too Bad You're Lying

I have three jobs right now, all of which are very awesome, and all of which involve learning new things and writing reports, so blogging is not something I especially need do right now. I regret this a little bit, because I'm very fond of you all, and you have helped carry me through lean times when I didn't feel as appreciated in my real life as I do now. Sometimes I want to tell everyone, including strangers on the Internet, about how much fun I'm having, but there's not a lot I can talk about. Also, just as the more successful a stand up comic becomes, the more her jokes pertain to hotels and airlines, the further along in her career a pilot gets, the more her story pertains to paperwork and management. Sometimes I want to tell specific people things, but those aren't always appropriate, either. This person, though, I think I'll talk about to you, because it's not appropriate to talk to them.

Once upon a time, when a person applied for a job, she put together a resume of skills and experience and then took it to a place to get it copied however many times she thought she could afford stamps for. Then she wrote a cover letter for each potential employer, highlighting for them the aspects of her resume that were most appropriate to the particular company. Cover letter went on top of the resume, then they were folded together and placed in the envelope. the envelope would be the first thing the employer saw, so of course a person would address it neatly, make sure she had the correct name and address, and I used to look for special stamp issues with airplanes on them and use those. I figured that chief pilots would be attracted to stamps with airplanes on, the way I was. By the time I was looking for my second job, it had become normal to just fax the resume and cover letter. I mention this, because nowadays resumes are typically e-mailed to potential employers, but the wisdom applicants receive from their parents or mentors may not include the fact that there is now another layer of presentation: the e-mail message itself.

Step one of e-mailing your resume to a potential employer is not sending it from the e-mail address you made up when you were in grade eight. does not say great things about you. You would not believe how many e-mail addresses I see in that vein. But let's say you have a sober, mature e-mail address. You need to write something in your e-mail. I will never open an attachment to a blank e-mail, not from a friend, relative or a stranger. If there's nothing in the e-mail that indicates the person knows who I am I delete it, no regrets. I do open pretty much all e-mails from job hunting pilots. I've been there. But adding "2000h TT," or "Current [type] PPC," or whatever you know your prospective employer needs will help you get looked at. The content of the e-mail determines whether I go to the next step. Think of what is written in the body of the e-mail as you convincing me I should open the attachment and look at your resume. Don't make it the equivalent of "you won't believe how many hours this pilot has." I don't see anything wrong with copying the body of your cover letter right across to the e-mail body. That's the letter you took time crafting.

Here's what was on one recently:

Dear Sir/Madam [...] I have learned about this company online, and have familiarized myself with the aircraft fleet.

Right there, right there in the first paragraph, the candidate has lied to me. My information on our company's website make it clear that "madam" and not "sir" would be appropriate. What did they learn about the company online? The complete lack of reference to what our fleet is composed of strongly suggests that the candidate did no such thing. Why does it matter? If I were to hire this person, they would have to sign a form before each flight stating that they have familiarized themselves with NOTAM and weather for the route of flight and verified that the aircraft is in weight and balance limits. They expect me to turn the page and believe the numbers they have written down for their experience, when they have already lied to me today?

Am I, who got hired for her first job with a resume bearing a spelling error, playing this game too harshly? Maybe. Maybe it's petty. I looked at the resume, and the person had some really relevant experience (which had they actually researched the company they would have been smart to put at the beginning of the cover letter, or even in the subject line). The total time was really low. If the cover letter had showed they cared, I might have opened a dialogue with them, passed the resume over to another company that we hire from. But I didn't. I worried a tiny bit that they would see this and then go back and actually look at the websites of all the companies they sent the generic cover letter to, to find out which ones had a female in my role, so they could out me. But given they weren't willing to do that much research towards getting an actual job, they probably won't do it for a minor act of vengeance. Plus that's not a very distinctive opening line. There's probably a flight college power point slide somewhere that a whole class copied it off of.