“Write a letter explaining why this job is right for you” … wrong!!

Recruitment companies and departments often try to be clever when advertising a vacancy with a request like this, to go along with your CV/résumé. The truth is, though, they don’t actually mean it. What they really mean is, “write a covering letter explaining what you will contribute to our company.”

write a good covering letter for your job application HTWB

Make sure your covering letter is NOT just all about you, even if you think that’s what they want to see.

As long as you realise this, you can use this cover letter to gain the edge on other candidates who take that request literally. And what happens to them? Their letters come across as boastful, “me-me-me” documents that unwittingly make them look like they’re totally up themselves and only regard the job concerned as an opportunity to advance themselves. and that’s hardly what today’s employers are looking for.

Here’s how to gain that edge…
[Read more…]

A worrying letter from Walmart…

Walmart, bless them (and ASDA, their UK incarnation) come in for a lot of jokes but I expect the corporate wallahs have a sense of humor. Unlike them, however, it seems the General Manager of this particular Walmart branch really did not see the funny side of Mr Jones’ practical jokes.

A worrying letter from WalmartHere is the letter the General Manager sent to Mr Jones’ wife, presumably as he didn’t feel that Mr Jones was sane enough to understand plain English…

Warning: not all of the following is really “safe for work…”

[Read more…]

Letter from an eMailphobe…

My thanks to my good friend H. for sharing this letter which she received recently by, er, email…

Dear E-mail Freak,

As we progress towards the end of 2012, I want to thank you for your educational e-mails over the past year. I am totally screwed up now and have little chance of recovery.

I can no longer open a bathroom door without using a paper towel, nor let the waitress put lemon slices in my ice water without worrying about the bacteria on the lemon peel.

I can’t sit down on a hotel bedspread because I can only imagine what has happened on it since it was last washed.

E-mails: in your view, do they suffer from impurrrrrfections?

I have trouble shaking hands with someone who has been driving because the number one pastime while driving alone is picking one’s nose.

Eating a little snack sends me on a guilt trip because I can only imagine how many gallons of trans fats I have consumed over the years.

I can’t touch any woman’s handbag for fear she has placed it on the floor of a public toilet.

I must send my special thanks for the email about rat poo in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet sponge with every envelope that needs sealing.

ALSO, now I have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I can’t have a drink in a bar because I fear I’ll wake up in a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys gone.

I can’t eat at KFC because their chickens are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes, feet or feathers.

I can’t use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

Because of your concern , I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer buy fuel without taking someone along to watch the car, so a serial killer doesn’t crawl in my back seat when I’m filling up.

I no longer use Cling Wrap in the microwave because it causes seven different types of cancer.

And thanks for letting me know I can’t boil a cup of water in the microwave anymore because it will blow up in my face, disfiguring me for life.

I no longer go to the cinema because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS when I sit down.

I no longer go to shopping centers because someone will drug me with a perfume sample and rob me..

And I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a huge phone bill with calls to Jamaica , Uganda , Singapore and Uzbekistan ..

Thanks to you I can’t use anyone’s toilet but mine because a big black snake could be lurking under the seat and cause me instant death when it bites my butt.

And thanks to your great advice I can’t ever pick up a dime coin dropped in the car park because it was probably placed there by a sex molester waiting to grab me as I bend over.

I can’t do any gardening because I’m afraid I’ll get bitten by the Violin Spider and my hand will fall off.

If you don’t send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhea will land on your head at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, and the fleas from 120 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor’s ex mother-in-law’s second husband’s cousin’s best friend’s beautician.

Oh, and by the way…

A German scientist from Argentina , after a lengthy study, has discovered that people with insufficient brain activity read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse…

Don’t bother taking it off now, it’s too late.



P. S. I now keep my toothbrush in the living room, because I was told by e-mail that water splashes over 6 ft. out of the toilet.

Photo credit  © Suzan St Maur & Gobbycat 2013

Now, make sure your emails get read – and acted on:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

The simple way to write a sizzling sales letter

Much as we spend most of our lives online, there are still occasions when a printed letter is required … even if all you do with it is to attach it to an email! Here, then, are some tips on how to approach it effectively.

It’s important to differentiate here between the really hard-nosed direct mail sales letter, and, say a new business announcement, or a covering letter you send out to accompany some marketing or other information to a prospect or customer. The former type is best left to professionals, because it takes a great deal of skill, practice and experience to do it well. The latter kind, though, can be done quite effectively by the DIY sales writer. Here are my thoughts on that.

The one main difference between sales letters and personal letters is the role you play. In a personal letter you write in your own style about what you want to say. In a sales letter your focus is totally on the recipient, and you write in the style that he or she will identify with most readily – regardless of your own personal style. Because of this, your style will vary according to who is going to receive the letter.

Show them you care from line one

Right from the very first line, you need to show your readers that you empathize totally with their needs. The better you do that, the more likely they are to keep reading. To achieve that you need to do your homework and find out what your readers real needs are, and focus everything you want to sell them on how it meets those needs and benefits them.

You also need to focus very firmly on “you” and avoid talking more than strictly necessary about “we” and “us,” except for where it obviously benefits “you.”

Facts, not sales talk

Finally, a good sales letter needs to focus on facts – not selling jargon. Readers aren’t stupid. They’re not going to be interested in your product or service unless a) they know precisely what’s “in it for them” right from the beginning, and b) why that’s in it for them. The only credible way to answer the “why” part is to give truthful, straight facts. The selling skill isn’t in making up a plausible sounding story. The skill lies in showing readers how the facts will benefit them.

Let’s use a consumer example, although the same theory applies to the business-to-business variety. This is the launch of a new window cleaning service. First, the wrong way…

Dear Sir
(First mistake. Many householders are women. It’s also a bit too formal for this audience, and this service.)

We are proud to announce the new See-Through window cleaning service in the XXXtown area.
(Wrong again. You may be proud to announce it, but to say so sounds old-fashioned, pompous and affected. The reader doesn’t care about you or whether you’re proud or not.)

Our 20-strong team of cleaners has been fully trained to ensure an efficient and thorough service to householders …
(How many cleaners does it take to do the windows of the average home, unless you’re talking the White House, Buckingham Palace, or the Sydney Opera House? One? Two maybe? You may be impressed by your 20 star performers, but they’ll make your readers think they’re in for a large expense.)

… at very attractive, cost-effective rates.
(Nonsense, says the reader. Cost-effective is what businesses say when they try to justify high prices. I only react to facts. Like how much would it cost for an average three-bedroomed townhouse?)

We also offer discounts to groups of ten or more households wishing to have their windows cleaned at the same time.
(Where? Zimbabwe? Alaska? Halfway up the Andes? What about me and my neighbors?)

Further details of this discount facility are available on request.
(You’ll tell me about prices if I ask you nicely. Nuts to that. I want to know now.)

If you would like more information on the new See-Through window cleaning service, please contact our office.
(Well, at least you finally remembered who you were writing to. But why should I contact your office? And who? The canteen manager? And where? One of those funny little phone numbers at the bottom of the letterhead in 6 point type? If you want me to buy from you, make it easy.)

Yours faithfully
(oh come on … you’re not writing to a tax inspector!)

I Glass
(Gosh, a real chairman. I wonder how much he knows about how I like my windows cleaned. Haven’t you got someone a bit more in touch with me and my needs?)

OK. Let’s try again with a more appropriate style and approach, using headings to break up the text and emphasize key benefits. We also need to give far more in the way of facts.

Dear Householder,


Window cleaning can be a time-consuming chore for you … messy, dirty and even dangerous. Paying someone else to do it can help. But can you always rely on them to turn up regularly?

Now, though, you can leave the problem of window cleaning to us. See-Through window cleaners have just set up a new professional service in your area … to clean your windows as often as you want, on a regular basis. All you have to do is tell us how often you want us – biweekly, monthly, three-monthly or whatever suits you best – and one of our fully trained cleaners will be there every time, on time.

And you don’t pay more because we’re professional. An average three-bedroomed townhouse costs around YY.00. That’s less than many independent casual window cleaners charge.


For ten or more homes on a regular basis, we’ll give you a discount of 20%. That brings the cost of an average three-bedroomed townhouse down to just XX.00. And twenty homes or more get a massive 50% off.


Just mark and post the enclose reply-paid card, or email us here: clarity@seethrough.com.uk

We’ll get in touch right away to make an appointment for one of our specialists to visit your home and give you a free, no-quibbles quote.

And if your windows need attention urgently, call us now on our Hotline – 0123 456789. We’ll get one of our team over to you within 72 hours, at no extra charge.

Let See-Through give you a cleaner, clearer view from your windows – at a cost that clearly makes sense.

Warm regards

Customer Services Manager

Sizzle on with these:

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

A lesson in letter writing skills for Income Tax officials

I’m told this is a letter as written by a staffer in the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs, in response to what must have been an interesting letter from a taxpayer…

Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”. It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”. This is how we, at HMRC have always, for reasons of accuracy, traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers” might indicate that your decision to “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies” is at best a little ill-advised.

In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin or, come to that, a “sodding charity”. More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”, a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party” yourself.

The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles” and “dancing whores” whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:

1. The reason we don’t simply write “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;

2. You can rest assured that “sucking the very marrows of those with nothing else to give” has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.

Please forward it by Friday.

Yours sincerely,

H J Lee

HMRC Customer Relations

Get your writing up to speed, to make the Tax Man proud of you!

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

How to write a “Dear Mum and Dad” letter that works

A father entered his daughter’s bedroom and saw a letter on the bed. With the worst premonition, he read it with trembling hands. (Original author unknown.)

Dear Mum and Dad,

It is with great regret and sorrow that I’m telling you that I’ve eloped with my new boyfriend. I’ve found real love and he is so nice. Especially with all his piercings, scars, tattoos, and his big motorcycle.

But it’s not only that, I’m pregnant, and Chainsaw (isn’t that a cute nickname?) said that we will be very happy in his trailer in the woods. He wants to have many more children with me and that’s one of my dreams.

I’ve learned that marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone and we’ll be growing it for us and his friends. They’re the ones providing us with all the cocaine and ecstasy we could ever want. In the meantime, we’ll pray for science to find the AIDS cure, so Chainsaw gets better. He deserves it.

Don’ t worry about money. Chainsaw has arranged for me to be in films that his friends DJ and Scarface make in their basement.

Apparently I can earn £50 a scene. I get a £50 bonus if there are more than three men in the scene, and an extra £100 if they use the horse.

Don’t worry Mum. Now I’m 15 years old, I know how to take care of myself. Someday I’ll visit you and Dad so that you can meet your grandchildren.

Your loving daughter, Aimee

p.s: Dad, it’s not true. I’m watching TV at a neighbour’s house. I just wanted to show you that there are worse things in life than me failing my English exam.

I love you. Aimee
Mischieverse is Suzan St Maur's first book of naughty, humorous poetry ... coming soon from Corona Books UK.Thinking of buying some gifts for folks with a good sense of humour? Check out my latest book of hilarious and somewhat rude poems about the things that get up our noses every day … perfect to chuckle over. In print or Kindle.
Some samples here.
Buy it here.
“An amusing sideways look at anything and everything … the perfect gift.” A E Rawson, novelist.
You’ll love it.