Today I surfed on the internet to get some tips on how to write a cover letter, when I came across an article by the German journalist Harald Martenstein (Martenstein, 2009). It described the time when he was responsible for recruiting trainees. He mentioned a particular applicant; who had studied at Oxford and Harvard, had 2 PhDs, had completed work placements at the New York Times and Le Monde, spoke 5 languages fluently and was the runner-up at the National level in a sport that was not specified. (Obviously it is to protect the identity of the applicant.) Anyway both the recruiters in charge decided against him because he was obviously very qualified and would be able to find a job anywhere. (huh?) Just not at their paper. The reason he gave was that someone like this applicant was obviously very ambitious and would either become the Chief Editor within 10 years or if not infect the others with his sulky mood. In addition, reading that CV made H. Martenstein feel average, lazy, overpaid and lacking ambition. Apparently other recruiters must have thought the same of the applicant because he applied again for the same position a year later.
Unbelievable! Here I was thinking that a perfect CV is what recruiters were looking for. But it seems that an impeccable vita can be read as belonging to a person who is extremely driven in the negative sense. Therefore such applicants are deemed as having difficult characters and being potential mood killers. I wonder if this is a common perception among recruiters? Maybe I should count myself lucky that I do not have any outstanding sporting accomplishments to mention in my CV.
1. Martenstein, H. (2009, 01 04). Retrieved 01 04, 2012, from ZEITmagazin: http://www.zeit.de/2010/01/Martenstein-01