How not to apply for a job/research position/other future career role

By Anna Sandiford 18/10/2013

We receive a regular flow of email requests from science students around the world enquiring about how they can become forensic scientists.  That’s all good – if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

What irritates me immensely is the clearly haphazard and unthinking approach that is so immensely common throughout those from people who are clearly mass-emailing lots of companies using the scatter-gun method.  It seems to be a basic approach by anyone under the age of 25 to send off random emails without any need for use of phrases such as ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ or even something along the lines of ‘I appreciate that you must be busy running a company’.  Many of them clearly haven’t checked that our company is relevant to the enquiry they are making – many times it isn’t.  It’s like they think I am just sitting here waiting to respond to poorly written, unstructured, random emails that have spelling mistakes, no punctuation and no capitalisation.

Here is a news flash: employers judge potential employees by many means, including the written word and the ability to try to communicate well and considerately with a range of people.  I, for one, would not employ any of the people who have written any of the following to me:

1.  how do i apply for a master’s thesis project?  My suggestion: look for a company that is advertising them.  Failing that, write a proper letter or at least an email structured like a proper letter.  Make the effort to address to an actual person.  Use some capital letters and say please and thank you.

2.  will I get a job in forensic science if i do a double major in science?  My suggestion: maybe.  Depends on the subjects, your grades and whether you want to do the job at the end of your training.  Say please and thank you.

3.  can i send you some questions for my inquiry topic at school?  i need the answers by tuesday.  My suggestion: don’t email me the Friday before.  Say please and thank you.

4.  And the final one, which is a variation on a theme:  i need a hair/DNA/urine/other random body fluid sample collecting – can you come and do it?  My suggestion:  find a collector closer to you because it’s a long way from Iowa/Manchester/other place in the northern hemisphere to New Zealand – get a map out.  Say please and thank you.

I am always happy to interact with people who are polite and take the time to find out my name and where in the world we are based and put together a well thought out communication but I think I have reached the end of my patience with people who don’t think before they send.

0 Responses to “How not to apply for a job/research position/other future career role”

  • Having said the above, I received two beautifully worded emails from science graduates this weekend – either coincidence or they read my post. Either way, it was an infinite improvement.

  • Sounds a bit like some of the requests I get relating to science fair projects: please can you tell me everything you know about [insert topic here]!