Thursday, 22 April 2010

How (not) to apply for a job in English

This blog would have been deficient in valuable postings if there hadn’t been a month without bad-English rant. In the next episode of the series your favourite blogger is cracking down on a letter of application he has found somewhere in the Polish Internet.

At the beginning of the week I had to face a challenge of writing a letter of application in English. Whenever I speak about list motywacyjny with my Polish friends, we end up coming to a conclusion that applicants usually write there so-called pierdoły (hard to translate Polish phrases, in this context meaning “everything and nothing”). We all prefer filling in application form, where we provide the company with all information it wants to have about us and answer specific questions – any both parties are happy.

This time, although I know general rules and layout of this sort of letters, I felt slightly insecure and decided to look for some examples of letters of application in the Net. Out of a habit, I visited the most popular Polish portal for job-seekers to find this baffling example of use of English. (Needless to say I eventually wrote the letter myself)

The author of the guide snows her readers with several priceless advice, such as:

W angielskim liście również w innym miejscu umieszcza się dane nadawcy i firmy – data i dane firmy są po lewej stronie, a twoje nieco wyżej, po prawej. W angielskich standardach obowiązuje również system blokowy – nowy akapit od nowej linijki, bez wcięcia.

As far as I’m concerned there are two layouts:
1. British (also called semi-blocked), where addresser appears at the top, to the right, below, also to the right you put date and further down, to the left you place addressee, new paragraphs start with indentions.
2. American (also called fully-blocked), where everything is aligned to the left, paragraphs have no indentions, but are separated by a gap.

Nie wygłupiaj się! Jeśli nie znasz języka na tyle, żeby samodzielnie napisać list motywacyjny po angielsku, to nawet nie zaczynaj!

Scroll down to check if the author of this sentence practises what she preaches.

Przeczytaj, ale nie przepisuj! Każdy list powinien być unikalny, a wzory są tylko po to, aby czerpać inspirację!

Rewrite the masterpiece below? Who’s so determined to have their application rejected right away? That would be a shot in a foot! But this letter definitely filled me with inspiration – to compile this post.


For sure every recruiter who doesn’t know Polish well will understand this title.

Mateusz Wiśniewski
Tel. 505 000 000
Mr. Karol Napiórkowski
ABCD Company
HR Department

I still can’t make out to which layout the author sticks. The very content suggests it’s the American one, but the addresses made me stumped – left to the right, right to the left, the other way round, coincidental lack of punctuation, maybe some other features (Mr. Karol?) leave a more experienced reader devastated.

Now let’s tear the content into pieces…

Dear Mr. Napiórkowski,

I am writing in regards to your current Human Resources Development Project Manager opening of which I got to know from "XYZ newspaper", August 23, 2005.

With regard to the first sentence of your letter I would like to remind you that regards are at the end of a letter, a rather private one. Why does it seem to me that “XYZ newspaper” is Mr Wiśniewski’s buddy?

Having worked in this profession, I am strongly convinced that my former experience and competence will be of great value for your organization.

Has the experience been given the sack? How about words such as past or previous?

As a this year graduate of Psychology, I present a high level of human resources academic knowledge as my major course was "Psychology in HR Management".

This year’s series of nasty posts labelled ‘translation’ presents a high level of spitefulness of the author of this blog, as he specialises in seeking out absurdities.

During my studies I was involved in many HR projects e.g. preparing recruitment tests for temporary employment agencies. I also did a research of corporate recruiting strategies concerning my MA thesis.

Or was it your MA thesis that concerned recruitment strategies?

I was also given an opportunity to work as a chief career counselor in the University Career Office. Over the last year I have completed more than 30 recruitment campaigns, none of which turned out to be a failure (reference upon request).

Passive voice sounds a tad bombastic but let’s brush it aside and focus on the content. The applicant must be a born optimist. For a pessimist all campaigns (or rather projects) would prove successful, an optimist will write żadna z nich nie okazała się porażką. I like the Polish word porażka, it carries such a huge variety of meanings.

Irrespective of my age and short experience, I am able to contribute in the same matter to the success of your organization.

Irrespective (who cares if words like ‘despite’ exist at all) of my efforts to grasp the meaning of “in the same matter” part I still find myself unable to decipher author’s intentions…

HR projects lie in the sphere of my strong interest. Bearing a challenge of managing a group of people is a motivation itself for me.

Projekty z zakresu zarządzania zasobami ludzkimi leżą w sferze mojego mocnego zainteresowania. Poniesienie wyzwania jakim jest kierowanie grupą ludzi jest dla mnie motywacją samą w sobie. Maybe if I translate it into Polish someone realises what kind of drivel we are facing.

Moreover my professional experience allows me to motivate subordinates effectively. I am not afraid of confronting problems and have skills of solving them – thanks to my academic competence as well as my high level interpersonal skills.

Experience is short but professional… I am running out of bright ideas on how to confront the problem of subprime translations and my high level ridiculing skills are declining…

I am a responsible and at the same time spontaneous person and have been recognized as one who embraces creativity and new ideas.

I am writing this post and at the same time I am laughing out loud and wondering, in which context the verb ‘to embrace’ was used. Probably in none of three ones (to accept, to hug, to include) I know.

For more detailed information please refer to my enclosed resume. I am eager to further discuss my qualifications during the interview. Thank you in advance for your generous consideration.

The word chętnie is indeed not one those which translate easily into English, but English has a few fixed expressions which may be used in the final paragraph, for instance: I would be glad to…

I anyone wants to comment on the last sentence, please feel free to snow me with your generous considerations. Thank you from the mountain for your contribution.

Mateusz Wiśniewski

(it’s not my real name, just a signature copied from the letter) By not adding ‘Yours’ the author shows he is quite thrifty – this shrewd move helps someone save on ink.

And today’s final part is an old chestnut – use of English by SGH staff.

Dear readers! Posting next post is canceled at 23 and 24 of April. Additional posting will be postponed from 26 of April to 25 of April.

1 comment:

Island1 said...

"none of which turned out to be a failure" Hilarious!