This story got me out of a temporary blogging hiatus. I just had to write about it…
Shea Gunther, writer and owner of a new clean-tech website launching in May, sent out a mass email to 900 applicants who wanted to write for him. 900!! Instead of the sober, formal reply writers often get that basically say, “Unfortunately we decided to hire another writer,” this one included a 3,000 word rejection letter stating in detail why each and every person didn’t get the job.
This sparked a ton of anger for the recipients as well as for the commenters who read the letter in its entirety on Gawker here. Called, “Here’s How to Condescend to 900 Job Applicants With a 3,000-Word Rejection Letter,” it included 42 writing do’s and don’ts that were not well-received. Here’s a small sample of the letter:
“When you have a pool of 900+ applications, you can be picky, and we passed over many worthy people simply because they don’t have enough experience in clean technology and green media. I would advise anyone without enough of the right experience who wants to break into environmental writing to start a personal blog and write about the things you want to get paid to cover. You are welcome to get back in touch with us in the future after you’ve built a more focused portfolio.
Beyond those two groups, there were applications that were skipped over after just a quick read—the brutal truth is that the very worst applications got less than a few seconds of consideration. Often I could tell from the first few words of an application that it would be passed over. I was helped by the fact that we are hiring writers; if a person can’t craft a good email applying for a writing job, she’s unlikely to be the kind of writer we are looking to hire.”
” It was frustrating to see people unknowingly sabotage their chances of finding work by making easily avoidable errors.”
“It’s just not possible for businesses to give custom feedback to every applicant who applies for a job. And as I saw this week, trying to give more generalized advice to an entire cohort of applicants can blow up in your face.”
But then he ends with this, “Maybe the world just needs more dicks.”
As someone who also received this letter, I can agree with both sides.
Had Gunther double-checked his own work, he might have been more sensitive to the fact that 1) emails read differently than in-person communication 2) sending a mass email comes off as impersonal and cold to the recipient. If he had been aware of that, his message may have been more warmly received.