A couple of times a year, I get a CV and cover letter from some student looking for a work placement. One arrived this morning and was fairly typical.
There was a lengthy cover letter - slightly over a page long and dense with text that was littered with spelling mistakes, poor grammar and punctuation errors. It was addressed to "Dear Sir/Madam" and went on to enquire about a possible work placement in advertising.
I truly despair of what universities are teaching today's students. Or rather what they are not teaching them. It is inexcusable to send a 23-year-old out into the world of work with such poor literacy skills, for one thing. Especially when they are doing a degree in media and English literature.
The lack of research skills acquired is equally deplorable. Whoever dug up my details - whether the careers office or the student herself - could quite easily have quickly checked if I might be suitable to contact. A few seconds' googling would have produced my website, on which it is very clear that I'm a sole trader working from home, as well as my name. Not much point, then, in addressing the envelope to "FAO Recruitment" or me as "Sir/Madam". Not only that, but a look at my website would also have shown that I have nowt to do with the world of advertising at all.
What a waste of a stamp. I felt slightly sad for this particular student as I emailed her back to explain why I couldn't offer her work experience (although I refrained from saying she'd have no chance with me anyway because of her poor English).
Is it really so difficult for students to do a little homework before bombarding anyone slightly within their radar with their CVs? Every single application I have received since going freelance has been the same - a badly written and badly targeted enquiry. I guess the companies out there who would be happy to offer a placement also despair at the quality of applications.
So, to any students (or uni career officers) who are reading this: do your research, use a spell-checker, get someone to proofread your letter, ask someone for feedback on your CV and do your research...