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what i’d really like to say in my cover letter

March 15, 2012

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:

Dear Recruiter,

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.

Just sayin’

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,


28 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2012 5:47 am

    Oh, you should TOTALLY send this letter. Over and over. Consider it an experiment and the start of a book. FABULOUS!
    Rebecca in Switzerland (of XpatAdventures & Gypsy Girls Guide)

  2. Saffa permalink
    March 15, 2012 6:03 am

    Do it. Why not?… 🙂

  3. March 15, 2012 6:10 am

    I agree with Rebecca…you should totally write this letter…and that book (I think I’ve said that before :)) I would have loved to read this when I was in Human Resources and would have given you a shot. Go for it!!!

  4. March 15, 2012 6:26 am

    Carpe diem and what’s to lose?

  5. March 15, 2012 6:42 am

    I would totally give you the job. Send it!

  6. March 15, 2012 7:10 am

    i would hire you at once!

  7. Soph permalink
    March 15, 2012 8:03 am

    I would totally give you the job if I got letter like that!

  8. March 15, 2012 9:19 am

    it’s been said before and i’ll echo it ‘cuz there’s just no other damn freakin’ choice.

    send it.

    send it to every magazine, publishing house….within public transportation distance woman. send it to the newspapers. print it and post it with those little ‘number’ tabs on the bottom and tack it poles and in pubs.

    do it now.

    you have the balls (we ALL know that)….and i suppose they’re ITCHING to send this letter. don’t think…just send it. and then go meet joe for one of those dastardly whiskies you two enjoy.

    from what little i know of you….i think you rock big time. you’ve got this writing job in the BAG, woman!

  9. March 15, 2012 10:48 am

    ditto ditto ditto. the letter’s written….now flippin SET IT FREE! ….what wonders shall follow!!!! (insert big ‘ol, fat, expectant grin here)

    ps: so with you on the ‘team’ crap. bleh.

  10. March 15, 2012 1:01 pm

    You know that many employers these days google applicants? So chances are that some of those who received your resume WILL read this! Which would be great because this is a fabulous letter! You ARE a writer and anyone hiring you would be very lucky and not just get talent but passion and dedication. Also, because I have lots of experience with hiring and being hired (i.e. a colorful professional career), I can tell you what I learned the last time I looked for a job in a place where I had just moved to and knew no-one: even though it was tempting to go for *any* kind of job that I knew I could do, I decided to *only* go for those that genuinely interested me. And I made that very clear in my letters, too, I never sent out standard templates slightly tailored to the job at hand (because a recruiter can smell those from a mile.) And lo and behold, I was shocked to land exactly the job I wanted despite the recession and a difficult market. I agree with the others, you should send this letter (or a modified version of it) to potential employers. It is written from the heart and that will open the right doors for you, I have no doubt about that. Keeping all my fingers crossed for you, Jeanine! xo

  11. March 15, 2012 1:16 pm

    What have you got to lose? If the politically correct letters aren’t getting you anywhere, maybe this is just what the universe needs you to do. Go for it!

  12. March 15, 2012 5:22 pm

    Do it!

    I’m on the point of having to move back in with my parents because of not finding a job. So maybe the solution is to dispense with the 08/15, politically-correct, stuffed-with-interchangable-adjectives cover letters and go for something with a more personal touch. After all, what’s to loose? This is very inspiring!

  13. Kathy L. permalink
    March 15, 2012 5:50 pm

    Oh my god – I was reading but I’m tired and started drifting, kind of scanning but not really reading……and then my attention was alert – I saw the words, “Also, I’m made of magic.” Sooooooo loving you right now. You are magic woman! And that’s going to be my new mantra……..

  14. melissajaine permalink
    March 15, 2012 7:49 pm

    Oh sigh.
    I work in a newsroom.
    I am not a journalist.
    I am an Administrative Manager.
    (I don’t want to be a journalist, I want to blog, and print posters and spread gratitude 🙂
    If I hired journalists you would be it.
    Except you’d have to move to Australia.
    (I do have a spare room)
    But dare I say your magic talent would be wasted here (in the newsroom, not Australia ;).
    *big love*

  15. Kaitlyn permalink
    March 15, 2012 11:14 pm

    This post. Yes yes and yes. Thank you. It spoke to me and made my night. Same boat. Or body of water. Swimming along. Trying to find THAT right job…

  16. March 16, 2012 8:36 pm

    You should. Because the majority of lame cover letters don’t get read, so really, you have nothing to lose.

  17. March 16, 2012 11:21 pm

    I wish I could hire you…

  18. Tor permalink
    March 18, 2012 1:42 pm

    I risked sending a cover letter that was daring, quirky and slightly tongue-in-cheek to a digital media agency looking for a p/t PR person and they loved it SO much I got the job without an interview! And the person who employed me is still a great friend of mine today (although we both didn’t stay working at the company for very long!). My advice: send it. xx

  19. Lori permalink
    March 19, 2012 10:40 am

    Send.It. You’ll land a job no doubt but why go back to the familiar? I’ll put money on you landing a great job via this amazing letter. I dream of getting into production at a cooking show a la Nigella. No real experience but I KNOW I could do it and would start at the bottom. Ha! You’re a wonderful influence.:)

  20. sophie permalink
    March 19, 2012 11:29 pm

    If you don’t sent that letter, I swear, I will do it myself for you!!!!!

  21. March 20, 2012 6:55 pm

    I’m with Rebecca in Switzerland: this is the beginning of a book. Send it out, document the story, begin, begin, begin!

  22. Megan permalink
    March 20, 2012 9:19 pm

    Send it… you’ll definitely get an interview… seriously! Drinks on me if you do it 🙂

  23. Emma permalink
    March 21, 2012 8:50 pm

    I’m a long time reader but don’t comment often. I would like to say one thing then go back to lurking –

    Send that wonderful application letter.

    I know this is totally different and not relevant to your situation, but some years ago (I’ve done a fair bit of drifting myself) I applied for a job in a department store. When I was asked why I wanted to work in retail and what I could offer, I said with all the confidence of an 18 year old that I didn’t particularly want a career in retail, I just wanted to backpack overseas then go to uni in a year but that I’d work really hard for that year and be a loyal employee.

    I got the job. And did exactly what I said I’d do.

    Different world, it was the 90s but it can’t hurt hey? And I’m certain you’ll find something to fund your adventures.

  24. March 31, 2012 8:38 pm

    I love it – send it … the universe might just play along … x

  25. kristen permalink
    April 4, 2012 11:32 am

    You simply must send this letter. Not just because it would be an awesome experiment. Nor because it would be the beginning if a fantabulous book. It would without a doubt land you a job! I would hire you. Boring, stupid, lame, formulaic cover lettes hit the round bin before I’ve made it to the second sentence. Fair or not, I pitch them, they don’t even get a full look. Sure I could be missing great people, but I hire people who write. And if you can’t be creative and original enough to come up with a standout, unique cover letter, I can only imagine the boring crap I’d have to suffer through.! You are amazing and talented and I can’t wait to read about the job you land! xoxo

  26. April 16, 2012 3:55 pm

    Send it. I would leave out the “just sayin'” cuz the last line (magic) is so killer, you don’t even need it!!! It’s BRILLIANT.

    And it will turn heads, I am telling you, and the right person for the right reason will take you on, and would be a fool not to…

  27. your sister permalink
    April 20, 2012 8:44 am

    DID YOU SEND IT?! I sure hope so. I would not turn to one more resume after reading that cover letter – you would be it.

  28. June 1, 2012 11:02 am

    stick the magic line as the last, otherwise perfect.

    send it. i dare ya! 😉

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