We put out an all-call on April 15th, looking for the best geek girl writers on the web. (And perhaps a gay geek guy!) We weren’t sure how many applicants we’d get, so the flood of emails really shocked us!
We ended up with a pool of 93 applicants to consider for the article writer positions we have available. 93!! Yikes.
…and y’know what? We found that the mistakes people make in cover letters are the exact same mistakes they repeat when writing first contact emails on online dating sites.
But more on that in a minute…
J and I dug in and read through all the cover letters and article pitches and divided them up into two piles: the YES pile and the NO pile. Those in the NO pile were sent a very nice rejection letter (we tried to make it as kind as possible – these were GREAT folks, just not the right fit for our site). Those in the YES pile received a callback email. These 34 lucky ducks will be sending us a sample article by May 15th.
We’ll review the sample articles and make our final decisions by the beginning of June. You’ll start to see new faces then! We hope you’re as excited about our new additions as we are.
But here’s what you can learn from them… if you’re unemployed OR single!
Common Mistakes In Cover Letters & First Contact Emails
Not Knowing Your Audience
We had numerous applicants who found us through Freelance Writing Gigs (thanks Deb for posting our position!), and other writing gig websites. These are folks who were not established fans of GDG (like many applicants were!).
…and for some of them, it showed. They assumed because our site was “Geek’s Dream Girl” and we were looking for female writers, that it was a site FOR geek girls. They pitched us all sorts of articles exclusively for geek girls. While we have lots of female readers, we’re not a geek girl site. If anything, our geek love articles are skewed toward geek guys as an audience since 90% of our online dating profile writing clients are male. (Our matchmaking newsletter is about 50/50 girls/guys.)
We also had one very odd letter from someone who wanted to write exclusively about wine. It smacked of cut-n-paste and said that they could write articles about picking the right wine for “your D&D party.” Um, yeah. I don’t know about your gaming group, but we drink beer and soda.
The cut-n-paste letter is a huge no-no for cover letters and for first contact emails, but jumping to a conclusion about your potential date or employer after a cursory glance over their website is equally detrimental. It shows that you haven’t done enough research to know whether you’d really be a good fit for them.
Attitude, attitude, attitude
It tickled me to see how many gutsy women wrote us, fully confident in their abilities. You go, girls! I’m a big fan of the cover letter that walks the fine line between confident and cocky. (At some point, I should show you all the cover letter I sent ThinkGeek that got me the copywriter job.)
But there were a few people who sent the exact opposite – a meek, wimpy letter that walked the fine line between begging us for the job and admitting they probably weren’t the right person for it anyway, thanks for reading. I’m not going to get into woo-woo hippie stuff here, but if you’re sending out wimpy, I’m-not-worthy vibes, then you’re not inspiring confidence in your abilities. Take notes from the folks above who tooted their own horns.
Drawing unnecessary attention to your mistakes
We had a handful of people who wrote us a second time – to draw attention to the mistakes they made in their first email. Oops. Before you think we’re heartless bitches, there were people in that group who made the YES list anyway – they were great writers and cool chicks. But here’s another secret – we moved through the applicants at such a pace that we really didn’t notice your mistakes until you conveniently pointed them out to us!
Once a cover letter or first contact email has gone out into the wild, that’s it! Let it fly. If it has mistakes, well… you’ll proofread better next time, won’t ya? If it’s missing a subject line, then it’s missing a subject line. If you used the wrong “you’re/your”… better hope it goes unnoticed or the rest of your letter is so brilliant that the reader doesn’t mind!
Breathe and wait…
With online dating, you can write a follow-up email a couple weeks later (assuming you meet a few requirements). But if your potential employer says “We’ll email you around May 1st,” don’t email them on 4/30. It’s really sweet that you’re excited about the job, but we’re waist deep in 92 other applicants.
Same deal on your online dating site. The really hot, super-cool chicks have 20 emails a day in their mailbox. Make sure your first contact email is so unique, so perfect, so awesome, that she has to reply immediately.
Congratulations to the 34!
In the 34 applicants we’ve moved on to round 2, we have some AMAZING writers. People with all sorts of cool stories, education, fandom, crafty skills… oh gosh, it’s going to be so hard for us to narrow it down to the folks we actually hire. If we could afford it, we’d hire all 34 of them on the spot. But, like Highlander, there can only be one. Okay, more than one, but less than 5.
We can’t wait until our new dreamgirls start posting!