Unemployment #5: Don’t you wish you could submit, like, 25 cover letters?

January 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

The Cover Letter.

The books, the websites, the blogs, the newspapers…they all offer the same goddamn advice. Some employers encourage more creative cover letters by writing: “typical cover letters seem to find themselves tossed in the trash can.” This doesn’t help much because it’s not exactly like they want some delicate prose detailing how you came about the job and your flowery approach to writing the cover letter in question while you drank organic instant coffee that morning.

There are the ballsy people who just write one line like, “Hire me because I’m made of magic,” or the really courageous folks who walk into an office, write their name and phone number on a chair, give it to a manager and say, “If you hire me, you’ll never see me sitting on this chair.” And that shit works! Rarely. The rest of us have to comply with the banality of figuring out how to write a cover letter and knowing when to scrap the ones you’ve written.

Remember,  you’re only allowed to express yourself  AFTER you get hired and only until they incite an HR attack on your harassing ass.

Here are some samples of  my cover letters in order of desperation:

A cover letter too long and boring to warrant reading.

Standard boring cover letter usually reserved for quick Craigslist Ads

A bit more detailed, but not interesting enough.

Unconventional: Flirting with description and company familiarity. This one got me an interview, but from what I was told later, the admin just handed the boss a stack.

Service Industry standard competing with at least 150 other applicants going through Craigslist. Trying really hard to get noticed, boring or not, at least it’s different.

Sweet God, help me get a job.

Writing cover letters is exactly like writing a good term paper: if you want a high score you need to REWRITE REWRITE REWRITE. As you can see, I have certainly not attained perfection in the “voice” of my cover letter. Also, Craigslist and other online jobs can be some of the worst places to find a job match. For example, the last 4/5 jobs I had I got because I knew someone who worked there.

If you can’t seem to find the inspiration, have a couple of beers or some wine and free write, a concept that Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner understood well (though that was all fiction). Take a look at your writing the next day and I guarantee you’ll have a couple of creative concepts to work with. Under no circumstances should you send a cover letter/resume while drunk without having someone else proofread them first.

Go to the library and check out this book: What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard “Dick” Bolles. I promise you’ll find something useful, if not encouragement to keep trying.

I highly recommend, at least once, submitting an obscene number of cover letters for one job. Maybe the person reading your application has a sense of humor and BOOM, you’ve got yourself an interview.


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