Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cover Letters Are Hard

    A dear friend of mine (no really) has been job hunting recently.  It ain't easy.  I've had many conversations about this with several friends, actually.  It's such a grind, and at times, it can seem hopeless.  I blame part of this to the new way we find jobs.  When I was 15 looking for a job, I walked into McDonald's and asked for an application.  I was able to fill it out entirely, which put me at the head of the pack.
     Even a few years ago, I was looking for a part time job for some spending money and to get out of the house.  I was walking through my hometown and went into the movie theater.  There was an old crone standing behind the counter.  "Are you hiring any part time help?" I asked.  She then asked how old I was and what the deal was with my limp- two questions I know an employer is not allowed to ask.  But still, beside the point.  I just walked in and asked, and I got the job.
     Now, as adults, we have to write resumes and CVs and cover letters.  And we have to submit them over the internet.  We don't even get to mail it in, or look at the person we're submitting to.  Really, we don't know where the hell any of this stuff goes. 
     The resume or CV can be tricky, and it seems like the rules are always changing.  There are constantly Yahoo! articles about "What not to put on your resume."  The gist: never lie, but don't tell the truth. Make yourself sound good, but not too good or they'll think you're arrogant. Don't leave breaks in employment, but don't write down times you were unemployed.
     For my friend, the most daunting part has been the cover letter.  And I wholeheartedly agree.  You find a job you think you'd be perfect for.  Your skills line up to the desired qualifications listed.  Perfect.  "All I have to do is write this cover letter" you think to yourself.  And then twenty minutes passes and you're staring at a screen that reads "Dear Hiring Manager," on it.  Ugh.  What can you possibly say?  In the end, you play it safe; you write about your qualifications in a way that was not covered in your resume and you tailor it to the job at hand.  And when you don't get called back, you wonder if you should have played it so safe.
     For example, my friend applied for a job at Groupon.  She wrote these two same cover letters:
Dear Groupon,
     I'm ______ and I'm awesome. As you can see from my resume, I'm capable of putting up with as much bullshit as can possibly be thrown around. Seriously. The Navy? Government Contracting? The Government? It was bullshit city and I was the parade marshal for pride week.
     Also, I have excellent computer skills, such as forwarding emails and assembling power point presentations. I am a firm believer in your company because I too like to hang out with my friends but not have to pay full price for it.
     Given the opportunity, I'm sure I can excel with your company and together we can take it to the next level- global networking. That's not a thing yet, right?
Remember, I'm awesome.
Hearts, _____

Dear Groupon,
I want to work for you. Get me out of this place. Windy City! The Bears! I know a lot of words.

She didn't send either of them, but you have to wonder what response you would get if you did.  
I had applied for a position at TWoP and considered using this:
I can be a bit of a cunt, but it looks like you would appreciate my cuntish, no bullshit kind of humor.
A job opened up at Thomspon-Rueters.  I didn't apply, because I have no idea what they do.  But in the same vein:   
Dear Thompson-Rueters,
I'm a bit of a cunt, but I think my no bullshit attitude are just what you need. Yes, I will take a corner office, thank you.

Professionals recommend always keeping your resume and cover letter up to date, just in case.  My just-in-case cover letter:
Dear Hiring Director,
     I would be awesome at this job.  Seriously.  I only require about 4 hours of sleep a day- the rest of the time I can be at work. 
     I am one of the only people in my current office who can construct a sentence.  I know the definition of a lot of words, and even more importantly, when I don't know the definition, I do not proceed to use them in high-level documents.
     My current boss frequently calls me into his office to help with tasks in Microsoft Word.  Tasks such as deleting a text box that falls outside of the margins and changing the default reading mode.  He doesn't ask anyone else- he specifically seeks me out for these Word emergencies.
     I've done a lot of different things before and all of these jobs make me great at any future job.  I listen really well; I take direction better than a 6-year-old on his (or her) dad's (or mom's) tee-ball team. 
     And also, not that I'm desperate, but I will DO ANYTHING.  Really.  Anything.  I have a very low moral code.  I mean, I won't steal, but there's not much else that's off limits.  Mostly, it's about the job though. 
     I look forward to hearing from you.
Regards, Nancy
 If I were a hiring manager, I would hire whomever it was that sent these to me.  This may be why I am not a hiring manager.  

No comments:

Post a Comment