Informal Application Letters

I remember as early as my primary level when I learnt how to write a letter, when I moved to high school I remember being taught how to write a job application letter. We were taught how to align the letter, how to address the letter and we were taught how formal the letter needed to sound so that we would be taken seriously by the person receiving the letter.

I also remember when I went through my college years and I started to send out application letters for possible employment, I always made sure that my English and grammar was just right, I made sure my handwriting was clear and I used good quality paper. All this because I knew that I was writing a letter in order to be considered for employment and that the reader of my job application letter would make a decision based on limited information and this case it would be the quality of my application letter.

Recently, I wrote an article about youth unemployment in Zambia imploring the business community to assist by employing the young graduates and give them an opportunity to work and gain experience even if they are not getting paid. I also advised youths interested in internship to register on this website so that my foundation can help them get attached to companies. Only a handful of graduate followed these instructions and 80% of the people who responded chose to respond via text message or sms which I found shocking. Shocking in the sense that I could not begin to understand why anyone looking for employment would apply via text message. I am still trying to figure out whether the same youths expected that I would respond to their sms messages and did the same youths expect that I would forward the same text message to potential clients.

I still ask the question, are text responses or text application letters by our youths a sign of lack of seriousness or just lack of knowledge of business protocol and requirements? What made it even worse was the fact that the text messages were written in text short hand that I spent several minutes trying to make sense of them. Some examples of the text messages included:

‘hai madam, am jst readin wat u said in d news paper , am lukin 4 employment, am an orphan n finished grade 12 in 2009. Want 2 hear more frm u’

another text said

‘madam im lady agd 19years completed my grade12 last year, av trid so many places 2look 4a job bt no 1 haz employd me.2de I saw yo numba in da post I believe you can elp me’

again another sms read

‘am a youth and victim of unemployment for 7 years. I a dip in telecom by I ev no1 2 elp m, elp m’

another text read

‘I wnt u 2 elp m find a job as a storekeeper’.

yet another text application read

‘Gud afta nun sir, am here by ask’n 4 ur assistance or help by aceptin me 2 b part of ur intern program. I jst saw ur atko wich toks abt uth jobs. Am 1 of thoz uths who r unemployed en luk’n 4 a job. If u cn help I wil diply be happy coz I hv bn lukn 4 any type of job. U r my nly ope’

If you were a potential employer would you respond to such text messages? Would you believe that these youths are serious? Would you say it is lack of knowledge or lack of seriousness? Youths looking for internship must understand that I have to persuade organizations to take them on; I have no confidence in the level of seriousness to find work or internship exhibited by an application written in broken text language which I cannot forward to potential employers.

These are but a small number out of over 200 text messages I received from youths who are unemployed. It is time that as youths we understand that whether we chose to accept it or not and whether you say you can’t afford to buy envelopes and paper to write proper applications that there are certain expectations in the business world. The attitude that was portrayed by all youths and other job seekers who sent applications for internship or work via text message was disappointing. I am a business person and I know for a fact that I would never text the Managing Director of an organization to look for business, imagine if I sent broken English text to the CEO of a company telling them that I want some business, do you think they would respond? The CEO would not take me seriously; even if I try to call them on their mobile and they don’t answer I would still not send a text message. I would either call their office and make an appointment to meet with the CEO or I would write a proposal to the CEO and tell them about my service.

I know that many people will say that the youths don’t have money to write application letters, well all I can say is that they will remain unemployed until they start to take the job search process seriously. If you want to open a bank account, no matter how uneducated you are, no matter how poor you are and even if you can’t speak English the application forms in the bank are written in English and you have to find someone to help you complete the forms because that is what is required in the banking system. Similarly finding a job or internship must be given the level of seriousness that it deserves, if you want any company to take you seriously and give you an employment opportunity then learn to follow what is required to find the jobs. You must NEVER send a text message as a job application because you will not receive any response and you will not be taken seriously. If you are looking for internship and this is only for people who have finished their course and are looking for work experience you may drop your CV’s at our Offices at Plot 6057 Sibweni Road, Northmead Lusaka or email your CV to

A reminder that our annual Secretaries conference is scheduled for 3-4 November 2011, we have both local and International trainers to help our Secretaries become exceptional Personal assistants.

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