If you're looking for a job, don't blow it with your application letter.

If you are looking for a job, please remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. And in a highly competitive field, a negative first impression may eliminate you from further consideration.

As the CEO of a public relations and design company, I receive several job applications and requests for “information interviews” every day from prospective or recent graduates.

You want to get to the interview...From the first word I read, I am assessing the writer as a potential employee. And I am amazed at how poorly most people present themselves in these requests.

No, I’m not talking about the spelling errors (please spell my name correctly), thinking that my first name is Thornley and my last name is Fallis (if you don’t know you are writing to, don’t bother) or just plain bad writing.

I’m talking about the fact that easily half of the information requests and job applications I receive are clearly generic form letters.

Here’s an example of an “information interview “request that I received today:

Dear Mr. Thornley,

Please allow me the opportunity to introduce myself. My name is XX XX and I am currently looking to break into the communications industry in an entry level position and was wondering if I could possibly set up an informational interview with you to learn more about Thornley Fallis and the great work your firm does. I’m a recent graduate of the University of YYYY with a Master’s Degree in Modern Middle Eastern Civilization and International Relations. After graduate school I went on to complete an internship at the ZZZZ Institute. I have previously held roles as a journalist, public relations and media relations representative as well. My resume has been enclosed with this message for you to review my qualifications and I look forward to your correspondence. Have a great day!

Best Regards,


Take out my name and my company’s name and that letter could have been addressed to any potential employer.

Please, if you are going to approach me as a prospective employer, show that you actually took the time to learn something about me and personalize your letter. And no, putting my name in the salutation is not sufficient.

Don’t ask me to meet with you to tell you about my firm. If you simply Googled my name and the company name, you’d get a great profile of me and the people I work with. Show me why you fit with my company by telling me why we interest you and how you think you would fit in. Not generically. With specifics.

Remember, I may review five applications in one day. I probably only have time to interview at most one of those people. If you write a generic letter, you can be sure that someone else will have written a killer letter that talks directly to me. And that person will get the interview.