dear applicant


I am going to have a bit of a rant. What happened to the niceties of business etiquette? Am I crazy to feel insulted when I receive a impersonal form letter?

Yes…..this is a pet peeve kind of post. (Sorry)

A couple of months ago a friend who works for a preservation-based non-profit sent me an ad for a part-time job. It was for a part-time program coordinator at Historic Sugartown on Sugartown Road in Malvern. She had worked with me on historic preservation projects where I was a volunteer and was so excited to share this with me. She encouraged me to apply.

Historic preservation is something I am quite passionate about. So I indeed decided to respond to the ad. I sat down shortly after New Year’s and wrote a very detailed cover letter to the Executive Director. I submitted it along with my resume.

I am at a point in my life where I can choose what I would like to do, and if I want to do something like this part-time I finally can. I love this little historic crossroads village, and everything in the job description I knew I could do, even if I had never worked for a museum or historical site. The position sounded ideal, interesting, and fun.

Would I die if I wasn’t offered this very part-time gig? No. It was just something that really interested me. Also, the truth is you just never know so you should always go for what interests you. Life is short.

It’s March and until today I had heard nothing. I had already figured they had given this to someone who had spent their professional life around historic sites or museums.

Late this afternoon I received an e-mail. From the Executive Director referring to me as “Dear Applicant.”

I have a name. They didn’t use it. That alone was disappointing and almost infuriating. If you are going to bother to send a rejection letter, at least use the applicant’s name.

The note said :

Dear Applicant,

I am writing to inform you that the position of Program Coordinator at Historic Sugartown has been filled. We received over 60 applications for this part-time position, so it became an extremely competitive review process. We thank you for your interest and wish you all the best in your endeavors. If you would like any feedback on your application, please do not hesitate to email me.

Thank you again for your interest.

Best regards,

They had sixty applicants. Not six hundred. Heck there are mail merge programs that can quasi personalize even a generic e-mail.

I just think that if someone can take the time to apply for something, submit a resume, and a detailed cover letter, that the people who receive the resumes and letters can at least do better than “Dear Applicant”. Maybe that is too old-fashioned and antiquated , I don’t really know. But it is how I feel.

I will note that no one ever contacted any reference I provided them with and that is fine. I can completely accept that I wasn’t the shoe to fit this non-profit’s foot. It happens. But the position interested me because it is something I would like to do if the opportunity presented itself, so I applied. No regrets.

What bothered me was the “Dear Applicant” . They did not take the time to learn my name to send me my rejection e-mail, but they would give me feedback on my application? Are they even sure which resume and cover letter I was?

I realize that it is a brave new impersonal world out there when you apply for a job, but I swear I miss the days when receipt of resumes were acknowledged, people interviewed mostly in person (versus telephone interviews, Skype, and Google Hang Outs) , and when you were rejected they at least inserted your name in the rejection letter….which used to be a letter and not just an e-mail.

That is my rant. I know they will never consider me at Historic Sugartown to even take out the trash because I wrote this post, but as the workplace has evolved to business casual it should not mean that all niceties of business etiquette should just disappear.

Just food for thought.

Thanks for listening.

2 thoughts on “dear applicant

  1. The truth probably is that they gave the job to some friend or friend of a friend and they only advertised the job to satisfy the board. I tried to volunteer with The Nature Conservancy once and it was clear to me that all they wanted was my money. I wasn’t in the right clique to become one of them.

    • I agree. Incidentally I heard again from the Executive Director (who used to be at the Mill at Anselma ironically) who chided me. Sadly, she simply doesn’t get it. As a matter of fact she was snippy enough that I actually feel sorry for her. Running a non-profit means you have to be able to deal with all kinds of people and situations. Her attitude unfortunately is what chases away deep pocketed donors and volunteers….and you need both to not only fuel the salary and office of an Executive Director but to keep the historic site running. And when you are in her position and loose your cool, quite simply put you never know who knows whom.

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