An Open Cover Letter: CEO Position

The following was originally written, excluding a few minor edits, in June of 2015. It was inspired by a frustrating job search triggered by the closure of Target Canada, where I had been employed as a human resources team member.

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June 1, 2015

Re: Chief Executive Officer position

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you today seeking employment with your company as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). As you will see, if you take the time to read my resume (available upon request), I am a reasonably well-educated individual with a variety of career and life experiences that will make me a valuable addition to your company.

The purpose of this letter is to articulate how, as your new CEO, I could save your corporation millions of dollars each year. As is often stated by spokespeople working for publicly traded companies, corporations are legally obligated to maximize profits as this is in the interest of their shareholders. Therefore, having just been informed I can potentially save your company millions annually, you are required by law to seriously consider my application.

As you are no doubt already aware, numerous CEOs and other corporate officers are being paid salaries in the millions or tens of millions of dollars. Even after these individuals have done incredible harm to their company’s bottom line, these once mighty and proud corporations provide their executives with golden parachutes that would be the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket to most of their subordinates.

As I was doing research for this job, I quickly uncovered numerous examples from 2014 of executives making a fortune. According to one report I read, in 2014 the top 100 salaries ranged from $156 million on the high end to $20.5 million on the low end. Some of these paychecks were going to people presiding over tens of millions, or even billions, in annual losses.

Please allow me to provide you with one example that has touched me personally. As you will see on my resume, my last employer was Target Canada. Target formed this entity in 2011 to facilitate its move north. By the conclusion of the first quarter of 2015 its retreat back across the border was nearly complete, leaving billions in losses and more than 17,000 unemployed workers in its wake. Had all this happened two centuries earlier, Canadians might have found this experience gratifying, but as it stands it all seems incredibly wasteful.

The Target CEO largely responsible for this failed move into Canada, Greg Steinhafel, made $23.4 million in 2013. This turned out to be his last full year on the job. In May of the following year he left Target, receiving a $61 million (US) golden parachute for managing to bungle the move north he had championed just three years before. His replacement, Brian C. Cornell, brought in $28 million in 2014 in spite of only being CEO for seven months. In January of 2015, Target Canada’s demise was announced and by mid April every single store had been closed.

What does all this have to do with my offer to save your company millions? Quite simply, I am prepared to offer your corporation a substantial discount on leadership. I will take over the day-to-day management of any company for 50% less than it is paying its current CEO. In Target’s case, this would save at least $14 million in 2016. How many new CEOs can say that just by signing their contract they’ve saved their company millions?

Sadly, Target is certainly obligated to pay Brian Cornell a small fortune to leave. Your company is probably in the same boat. However, there will be no more contracts containing golden parachutes going forward if I’m hired, starting with my own. If your board decides I’m not the right person for the job, or worse, I’m causing more harm than good, then they can let me go at any time without having to pay me an extra dime. In fact, members of the board can even refuse to act as references or bash me in the press if they want to. After all, capitalism demands accountability, right?

Now you may be thinking I’m not worth the risk even at half the price. However, that’s a very difficult argument to make in a world that lavishly rewards failed CEOs. I, at least, will bring a measure of logical consistency to your company it probably hasn’t seen in decades, if ever. The positive PR value of this alone could be worth a small fortune. Think of all the free press your company will receive for thinking so far outside the box!!

Regardless, my IQ is sufficiently far above 100 for me to safely say any difference between your current chief executive and myself that works in his/her favor has already been more than adequately priced into my offer. Given my attendance record has been stellar and my performance at least adequate, even at jobs paying only a little above minimum wage, just imagine the kind of effort you might receive from me if I was paid half your current CEO’s salary.

By now you should be thinking (assuming you are as concerned about maximizing profits as you claim) that having someone of above average intelligence who is also willing to put in a full week’s work for half the current rate is just too good to be true — especially given I’m also prepared to forego even the most meager of severance packages in the event it doesn’t end well. But there’s more. I can provide your company with many millions in further savings in addition.

I have many very smart friends — a resource that will no doubt grow substantially if I’m hired. In fact, many of them are smarter than I am. I can speak for most of them when I tell you they too would be willing to come to work for your company at a salary that’s 50% lower than you’re paying your current top tier executives. Furthermore, because my friends come from a variety of backgrounds and hold a wide range of opinions, I am in a position to solve both your company’s diversity and group think problems for half of what you’re currently paying to perpetuate them.

In light of the above offer, you must admit your duty to your shareholders demands that you at least allow them the opportunity to consider it. If you or any of your shareholders have any questions, or would like to schedule an interview, just let me know. I am able to work legally in either Canada or the US, and will quickly acquire the necessary work permit should your company be based elsewhere.

Thank you for this opportunity to apply for the position of CEO with your company. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Craig Axford

Written by

US citizen residing in British Columbia, Canada. Degrees include anthropology and environmental studies. Activism, politics, science, nature.

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