How Not To Ask For Help

So I’m registered on the Rutgers Career Services website as a resource for students to contact if they have any questions about consulting. I typically receive one or two emails a semester from students with questions and am happy to talk to them through phone or email. However, I will not be responding to the following letter:

Mr. Rosenfeld,

I was put in touch with you through the Rutgers Alumni database.  I am a recent MBA graduate of Rutgers and will be relocating to Fairfield County, CT.  I have interest in the Management Consulting industry and wanted your opinion of the field, your company, the compensation, and the type of work. 

Any information you can provide is useful. 

[name redacted]

Rutgers MBA

Let’s pick at some of the issues with this…

  • No greeting. “Hi Mr. Rosenfeld” or “Dear Mr. Rosenfeld” would be nice, I’m not a robot. While this already put me on guard, if this was the only issue, I’d still setup some time to talk.
  • The first three sentences start with “I”
  • There is no “thank you” anywhere in the letter
  • There is no “please” in the letter
  • No acknowledgment that it will take some of my time to respond to the request
  • He wants to know how much I make in an introductory letter
  • “I was put in touch with you through the Rutgers Alumni database” just sounds awkward and robotic. “I found you through the Rutgers Alumni database” would sound more human. As a side note, I’m still not certain this is a real person because the email’s domain address forwards to another domain, so this can just be a robot spamming for information on consulting or just trying to find live email addresses.

Now I’m not that important of a person, I think this is just basic human courtesy. I could’ve sworn MBA programs had required business writing courses. Shouldn’t some sort of persuasion class taught this guy how to add value instead of steal value?

A humble student seeking my opinion and caring about what I say makes me want to help them. I gain value by feeling good about helping nice people. This guy is all “me me me”. I don’t want to help him. But I wanted to help people who may not know better, ergo this post.

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