what i’d really like to say in my cover letter
I’m not gonna lie to ya. Looking for work blows, people. And it blows even more when you need money because you find yourself constantly torn between following your bliss and working for the devil (Satan is a shapeshifter and looks different to everyone. My Satan resembles the death eater in Harry Potter. And he lives in a beige cubicle with fluorescent lighting). But beggars can’t be choosers so I’m sending my resume everywhere and whoever bites first can have me. For the past two weeks, I’ve diligently written all manners of compelling cover letters, using all the proper adjectives and action verbs to describe how I exceed the requirements of the job description and how I’m going to make a valuable contribution to so-and-so’s team (GO TEAM!). Yaddi Yaddi Yadda. Yawn. Send. Wait. Blink. Blink. Blink. Repeat.
I have written well over a dozen letters so far, and out of those, I have been selected for zero interviews.
Perhaps it’s time I drop the formulaic cover letter and say what I really want to say, which, if I had the balls, would go something like this:
When I was 10 years old, on the day of my Confirmation, the Bishop came to our church to administer the sacrament. He said he’d received letters from all the 5th graders in the province and one letter in particular had caught his attention. That letter was mine. And he read it. Out loud. To the entire congregation. And whilst my cheeks turned the color of beets, my mother’s pride beamed so bright that she looked as though she’d been touched by God’s very hand and it was very clear who, in that church, had written that letter. For the life of me, I don’t remember what my 10-year-old self had to say that was so compelling. Probably something about my sisters and how pulling their hair perhaps wasn’t a very nice thing to do and that by being anointed and committing to walking with beebee Jesus, I would surely become a good girl for all eternity. Or something like that. What I do remember is hearing my mother say, on multiple occasions, from that moment on: “Maybe you should become a writer.”
I wish I could say that I took her advice and studied English literature at University. I did not. I studied Sciences instead, and discovered like many of my fellow alumni that a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Zoology is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. And University degrees don’t guarantee you a plum job in your chosen field. Not even for an Honours student with an A Grade Average. I know. Shocking!
Most graduates wait tables and tend bars when faced with unemployment. I, personally, couldn’t fathom the thought of working at some diner asking “How would you like those eggs?” all day and coming home smelling of bacon and home fries. It’s not that I think it’s below me, it’s just that I’m not blessed with the gift of dexterity and could only imagine the trail of broken dishes left in my wake. And so, instead, I spent the next decade gallivanting across Canada, taking the odd administrative job to support my drifter’s habit. It was meant to be a stop-gap job, until I figured out, you know, what I wanted to do with my life.
That was 15 years ago.
I am still taking the odd administrative job.
Don’t get me wrong. I am very good at administrative work. Ask my previous employers about me and the answer will unanimously and unequivocally be that I am an extremely driven employee that consistently provides exceptional service. And they would be right. I am damn good at what I do. And I’ve gained invaluable transferable skills over the years. But I’m ready to drop the crutch and take a leap. I am ready to add something creative to my resume’s roster of administrative roles.
In some ways I wish I had been the 20-something graduate driven by a successful career. But then, I’d probably be working at some lab, researching the effects of St-John’s Wort on rats. (Are rats happier when given a dose of St-John’s Wort? And how, pray tell, does one measure happiness in rats?)
What I’m trying to say, in a most disjointed way, is this: all those years, when I appeared to be wandering aimlessly, I was actually deconstructing everything I thought I ought to be in order to discover what I wanted to be. To find that thing that made me hungry for more. The thing that made me want to stay up late at night and wake up early in the morning, just so that I could do it. It took me a while to figure it out, but in the end, it turns out my mother was right. That thing is writing. And apparently my passion has a sidekick – photography. Something passed on by my father.
So there you have it. When you look at my resume, I’d like you to imagine Writer or Proofreader or Editorial Assistant or Copywriter or Communications Assistant or Social Media Junkie written under the heading “Experience” because someone like you took a chance on me. I am but an infant in the big world of journalism but what I lack in experience, I make up for in passion and willingness to learn.
And if that isn’t reason enough to hire someone with very little professional writing experience, I don’t know what is. But if you’re still sitting on the fence, I make a mean cup of coffee. Seriously, I was voted best barista at Just Us! Coffee Roasters.
Also, I’m made of magic.
Thank you for your time and consideration.