I kid you not. Many moons ago in a company far far away, this actually happened. I am not disclosing names to protect the guilty.
I was an internal recruiter at a cable network. I was doing all the recruiting via email as this was back in 2005 and I really didn’t (and still don’t) like application tracking systems. One late night in October, I can remember it so clearly even though it was over a decade ago, an email comes into the corporate email box.
It read (and I am not paraphrasing here) . . .
I get nocturnal emissions thinking about working at XYZ Company.
Now, what is a recruiter supposed to do with that? I could tell the author had taken some time to compose this cover letter, albeit not appropriate. So I did what any other recruiter would do, I think – I moved it to the trash.
November comes and I get the same email, obviously, the young man was still very keen on working at our company. I repeated the previous month’s process and very quickly moved the email to the trash.
When December comes around and I get a third email with the same opening sentence, I decided that a different course of action was required.
I crafted a return response to this young man and simply suggested that as he had tried this method three times and hadn’t had a response, then maybe this was not the way to pursue opportunities with our company. I suggested that his language was not only inappropriate but could be considered offensive. He responded, “I thought that XYZ Company was hip and with it and it was appropriate to the type of company, as it was a cable network targeted at 18-34 year old men”.
So I decided to do a little digging at that point, what would make this young man deem it appropriate to use language like that in a cover letter. I found out that there was actually a program with that title and the young man was attempting to be humorous.
So my response to the young man was, well I understand you were attempting to create a bond with the hiring manager using terminology from the show’s content, however, this was the corporate recruiting department and we were the gatekeepers.
The lesson here, know your audience. This young man was not even considering that someone in corporate without knowledge of all the content the company produced would see the resume and cover letter first.
I let the young man know that if he wanted to try again and present an email that was appropriate, I would consider taking a more serious view of him. I can’t recall if he took me up on that offer or not. What I do remember is the reaction from my colleagues. They questioned why I even bothered to converse with the candidate.
My response was simple. How is he ever going to learn, if someone doesn’t tell him what he is doing isn’t appropriate.