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Diane Stafford: Here's a really bad way to ask for a job

Unedited except to delete the name, here's a real email received by a real spa owner:

Unedited except to delete the name, here's a real email received by a real spa owner:

"Hello good afternoon I am (name) and I was looking at your add on craigslist and seen u have a part time job for massage therapist i went to school to be a massage therapist and now i will be taken my test March 14 to be license."

Nothing suggests this came from a person struggling with English as a second language. There's no back story to know whether this person has learning disabilities. There could be a partial reason why the message is tragically awful.

But the spa owner has no clue. And, while the would-be applicant may be able to give a good massage, the owner has no interest in finding out.

"I imagine her massage is pretty pathetic, too," the owner told me. "Both writing and massage require focus and intention."

Focus and intention – good words for job hunting, too. Messages like the one above get zero response.

In today's service economy, employers want people with good communication skills. An email with run-on sentences, text-speak abbreviations, misspellings, tense mistakes and capitalization errors shakes confidence in the sender's intelligence and broadcasts inattention to things she should have learned in school.

Can she learn? Does she pay attention to details? Employers want to know this. They also want to cull the applicant pile quickly, looking for people who will be able to contribute from day one.

It's absolutely fine for a student to express interest in a job or ask for an informational interview to learn more about the position. But this sender didn't do that. She only said she's going to take a test that may (or may not) certify her for the job. What's the timetable for knowing whether she passes? The prospective employer doesn't have a clue.

I have utmost sympathy for job hunters who send job applications into the "black hole" of nonresponse. But that sympathy goes to applicants who proofread their communications, who apply for jobs appropriate for them at the moment and who ask for help if they don't know how to do it alone.

Job searching is hard. It is frustrating. But I also hear from employers who are frustrated at what they see. The spa owner said I wouldn't believe what comes across her desk – and not in a good way.

I am guilty of firing off emails that I'm embarrassed to reread. Way too many goofs go out the door. That's the danger of fast-click communication. And most of us aren't grammarians or professional proofreaders.

But what if the applicant had written:

"Hello. My name is ( ). I expect to receive my massage therapist license by April and intend to begin working at that time. May I schedule a time to speak with you about your part-time job opening? I am impressed with information I have read about your spa and would like to contribute to your success."

Do you think she would have received a response?



To reach Diane Stafford, call 816-234-4359 or send email to Follow her online at and


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