No, no, I’m not talking about that terrible guy/girl moment where one person says, “Hey! Thanks for loaning me your Algebra book. Here it is,” and the other person says, “I know why you’re REALLY here,” and the first person says, “Um. To give your Algebra book back?” and the other person says, “Noooo…” and then stares in that half-smile, expectant way, only to realize the first person was being serious, and then declares, awkwardly, “Well. This is awkward.”
Not that that’s happened or anything.
I’m talking about job rejection.
When one has been rejected enough times, one starts to not give a flying [cencored] about the sanctity of the cover letter.
I’m in a weird limbo, where I still care about making myself sound qualified, but I also want to stand out, and since I’m sure they’ll reject me anyway, I feel I might as well fun with it, but not too much fun because, well, I’d still like to have a shot at the job.
The result is a weird combination of terrible writing: humor, seriousness, honesty, and trying too hard. It’s like spraying garbage with febreeze and then hoping someone will eat it.
Take, for instance, the opening of this most recent cover letter:
Dear Hiring Manager,
This is my seventh application at —- University, and I hope, if nothing else, I have demonstrated how much I want to work at this school. With that said, however, I believe the Admissions Writer and Administrative Assistant position is the best fit. I am trained as a writer, with a master’s degree in creative writing from Dartmouth College, and I have experience as an editor, a blogger, a business writer, and an administrative assistant.
Maybe I should figure out how to create a big, red “Rejected” stamp to watermark across the letter to save them the trouble. But I really want this job! And surely these HR people are getting used to seeing my name. My next letter will probably go something like this:
Hi there HR peeps. It’s me again, the Dartmouth graduate of creative writing and former teacher and dolphin trainer who evidently cannot be trained to work in Admissions. I’m sure you don’t want me to bore you with my credentials again, so I’ll just tell you you’re looking lovely today. That new haircut really suits you.
Thanks for reading.
ANYway, brace yourself for the lengthy, trying-too-hard rest of my “The seventh time’s a charm!” letter:
My most recent professional experience was working as an English professor at a military institute in Roswell, New Mexico—meaning I know the ins and outs of English grammar—but I also wrote and edited on the side. I have several short stories published in anthologies, oral histories published in purchasable Dartmouth publications, and poetry published in the MALS Quarterly magazine at Dartmouth. I have worked as an editor for student publications at the graduate school level, as well as for a private publishing company, a non-profit organization, and as a freelancer. I create content as a blogger, with over 900 followers, and I am hip to most forms of social media.
My experience as an administrative assistant is in both a legal setting (as a trial court administrative assistant) and as a clerical assistant at a university. My chief responsibility for the latter was to assist with the admission and recruitment of graduate students. Aside from “normal” office duties, I also created and mailed graduate packets to prospective students and answered questions regarding the program. I have prepared many professional documents and letters of correspondence and am comfortable doing so. I also have a sense of humor and relate well to the college-aged demographic, which would be beneficial when marketing to them the programs —– has to offer.
IN SUMMARY: I have excellent communications skills and a demonstrated achievement in writing; I am comfortable communicating with wide audiences; and I can market any product I believe in.
I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you further about this opportunity. Please feel free to reach me by email or by telephone at ——-. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I’m quite proud of my “in summary” (for two reasons):
First: even MY eyes glaze over everything until that moment.
Second: ALL CAPS. I copied the tactic of my 70-year-old professors and shouted at them via email (though I’d rather like to think of it as “highlighting the take-home message”). At least I didn’t go all the way and type something that looked like this:
hI GUYS. i LOVE gERARD bUTLER
By the way—caps lock? A terrible invention.
Then there was my cover letter for a vacation company, applying to be an overseas Tour Guide. My super creative idea was to give them a tour through my resume. Behold:
Dear Hiring Manager,
I invite you to sit back, relax, and spend the next few minutes enjoying the scenery while I share a little more information about myself and why I would like to be a Tour Manager.
If you take a look at the top of my resume, you will find my educational background. Although I still harbor sensitivity regarding the one “B” I earned in college (I will forever dislike human anatomy and physiology), I was still able to graduate suma cum laude with a 3.97 GPA and earn admittance into an Ivy League graduate school. I attended Dartmouth College—which has no mascot, but fights with the words “Go Big Green!”—and is tucked away in the woods of New Hampshire, once home to Robert Frost (briefly) and Dr. Seuss, and a long way from my New Mexico home. Here, in a Henry David Thoreau fashion, my creativity blossomed and wild parties abounded (Animal Farm was, in fact, based on a Dartmouth fraternity house), and I earned my Masters of Arts of Liberal Studies with creative writing emphasis. (I am currently the most highly educated waitress at —- Restaurant.)
If you scan downward along my resume, you will find my past job experience. Take a moment to envision the world’s only known wholphin (a whale-dolphin hybrid) jumping in front of the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, and that is where I gained experience in tourism. I educated guests from around the world about marine mammals, and helped their dreams come true by allowing them to swim with dolphins. I later worked as a teacher, from middle-school-aged to college level, and I learned that researching and presenting information in a fun and exciting way is in my blood. Finally, the hospitality industry taught me the practical side of dealing with customers’ needs, as well as multi-tasking and detail management. For five years I have worked in industries that provided services to others, educated others, and ran more smoothly with a sense of humor and a positive attitude.
As I conclude this tour through my qualifications, I’d like to point out one final attraction: I am passionate about world travel. I have lived and worked abroad in New Zealand (“just because”), and I created my own two-week tour across the south and north islands as a conclusion to my Kiwi experience. I have visited Australia and Bali, the UK and South Africa, and parts of Europe. There are so many destinations I would still love to explore and lead others who also love traveling, and I believe I would do a fantastic job at it. I hope you will consider me as a future Tour Manager.
Thank you for joining me today, and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
I think a bottle of wine would have gone nicely with that letter.
But enough of that form of bad writing. Here’s something else to mix it up.
I have to admit that I wrote this blog late at night, and when I did a re-read the next morning, I found some sentences that didn’t make sense. They had a high school chemistry note quality, something like “Water’s of compounds→ minerals hydrogen. For soil.” Um. What?
So, I must have fallen asleep while blogging. Here are a couple of the gems I found:
“My third observation is that there are some people in this world.”
They say no man is an island, but look at how I proved them wrong for twenty-seven years! I was content to believe it was all me, me, me, me. And then yesterday, I was walking around, and BAM. Bumped into something. Not a tree, not a mountain lion, but ANOTHER PERSON.
So, as it turns out, that there are in fact some people (just some) in this world.
And this: “My second observation is that there are some really talented writers out there, which is amusing, but decreases my chances of being “discovered.”
There are talented writers out there and that’s amusing? Are THEY amusing? Or is the situation amusing? Maybe I was going for something like “there are some really talented writers out there, which is awesome for them, but sucks for me,” but I got confused while writing because amusing and awesome both start with “a,” so I just typed whatever came naturally after that first letter. That makes sneeze.*
I’m not sure if the greater lesson here is that I shouldn’t write late a night or that my observations skills are lacking. Either way, I shan’t be applying to the FBI (again), so no worries. But imagine the cover letter!
Dear Representative of the Governmental Agency for Top Secret Investigation,
I am applying to be an FBI Agent because I know I’d be amusing at it. For instance, I have observed that there are, in fact, some people in this world.
I also have other skills.
Future Agent J
(Perhaps I shouldn’t mention my blog in a cover letter anymore.)