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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Unemployment # 3: Job Scams or Getting Money out of the Penurious

January 24, 2011 § 21 Comments

Scammers are the insipid, redneck cousins of savvy computer hackers; the Peeping Toms of all out serial stalkers. They’re not smart enough to break into your personal accounts, but damn, they’ll try to convince you in any way to give them your information: rent ads, porn, free shit on the internet, and spamming your Gmail like a Tommy-gun that just won’t listen.

Hell, they’ll even give you an interview–an attractive offer for desperate, lowly job seekers such as myself.

The other day I applied to a job in Seattle via Craigslist. It was under the Office/Admin link and was a simple description of an optical office in need of a receptionist. Like any admin job, I supplied my standard Craigslist cover letter which was something like this:

January 20, 2011

Re: Administrative Assistant/Receptionist

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am very interested in applying for the administrative assistant position advertised on Craigslist.

I have many years of customer service experience in the service industry as well as hospitality management. Along with a strong education and a professional background, I would bring to this position a keen eye for detail, writing and communication skills, and prior administrative and front desk experience.

The enclosed resume, pasted into the email and attached as a Word document, summarizes my background and experience. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you in greater detail.

Sincerely,

IamtheAmericanDream

T: (608) xxx-xxxx

(I’ll get into Cover Letter banality later).

I received this response from hollymarino@janiceoptical.com.

Dear Gxxxxxxxx,

After reviewing your résumé, we’d love to interview you.

Our corporate office, however, requires us to perform a background check and a credit check. Safely apply for your FREE credit check here . Do not send us any private or personal information, simply the VERIFICATION # which we need to schedule your interview. The background check is conducted during the interview.

We look forward to meeting you. Please e-mail us with any questions.

Holly Marino

Office Administrator

janiceoptical.com

What Janice did right:

1. Spelling and grammar were both correct.

2. Supplied an actual website with an email to corroborate that website.

3. Told me not to send them personal information.

Why it was STILL suspicious: Although many jobs, especially corporate jobs, require background and credit checks, these are usually done during the hiring process and NOT before they’ve even met you.

What Janice Scumbag did wrong:

1. Told me not to send them personal information.

Typically anyone that sends you a link for a FREE anything is someone who wants your money or your identity. So the claim that they didn’t want any personal information told me that they all they wanted was personal information, maybe even my underwear drawer.

What a teeny bit of Internet RESEARCH found for me:

I checked out janiceoptical.com, it’s an actual existing website BUT it’s a WordPress website and signing up for a WordPress blog costs nothing (why else would I have one). Oh, and their “Contact” page is conveniently “under construction.”

Additionally, the company is not in the Yellow Pages and not searchable by Google. The free credit check website they sent me to was a legitimate site that provides legitimate reports, however, if you sign up “for free,” you’ll see in the fine print that they will charge you $14.95 per month for providing this credit check service. Having less that $4.83 in my bank account, I decided against a free credit check (especially when I know mine is shit anyway) and against an interview with “Janice Optical.”

I can now say that I have had bad interviews, canceled interviews, and fake interviews.

It’s best not to get scammed if you’re not making any money to begin with.

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