Monday, May 24, 2010

Struggle Has It Covered

If you can introduce me to someone who actually enjoys the act of writing a cover letter, I will in turn point out that that person is a serial killer waiting to happen.Seriously, there are probably people out there who get a perverse glow out of describing themselves on paper in a manner that is both arrogant and humble, but I personally hate writing cover letters for the same reason I hate Pretty Woman, because it's unrealistic, at the end of the day you still feel like a product to be sold, and I don't get the appeal of Julia Roberts. Okay, that last one may only apply to Pretty Woman. Still, I'm fairly certain you understand me.

However, it does seem scarily appropriate on this, the first anniversary of my graduation from not-Yale (which, my research says, is the paper anniversary, but one wonders if it mightn't have been better just to let this one go rather then giving it the lamest gift idea ever), that my current hateful obsession is the dreaded job application.  After all, it was my tragic graduation from that institution that thrust me into the job market, and despite a year of ex-patriot existence, it seems that here I am all over again, seated in from of my computer, desperately trying to seem both interested and interesting on paper. Come to think of it, I take it back, in this situation it's perfectly acceptable that this is the paper anniversary, after all, I'm using so very much of lately.

The thing is that the more I search and apply for positions and internships and any opportunity to leave the world of Real Estate, the more farcical it all appears. I've seen the term "self starter", "highly motivated" and "attention to detail" so many times in print that they've actually lost all meaning for me. And while while some ad copy reads like the kind of thing that would make Peggy Olsen weep, some of it seems deliberately mysterious and opaque. For example, my friend Andrew, (hi Andrew!) was recently applying for a job whose advertisement asked applicants to name their salary price. I mean, what does that even mean? I want ALL the money, how about that? That's my salary price. All the money.  I mean, let's be reasonable here, I'm a recent college graduate in an economy so in trouble that I find myself re-reading Grapes of Wrath for life tips, and there are, like, hundreds of thousands of other people out there who are just like me (though obviously lacking my sparkling personality and rapier-like wit, duh), I'm just thrilled you don't want me to pay you!

However, in the spirit of our great nation, I will persevere, and while I won't be fulfilling the promise of my forefathers by slaughtering indigenous peoples or eating my weight in fast food, I will indeed continue my struggle to find gainful employment in something at least a little closer to my chosen field. Though to be fair,  getting through the day without smacking a prospective tenant directly in the face but instead pretending their questions are meaningful is in and of itself kind of a performance...

And for all of you struggling alone with me in this painful job application process, I present a few helpful hints to aid you in your construction of your cover letters. After all, if you are going to whore around, you might as well have a pimp to help you through it!

1. Remember, it's a job application, not a dive bar. Desperate is not in fact an asset in this case, and ending a letter with "please please pretty pretty please" is not as persuasive as you think it's going to be. A good rule of thumb is that if it worked in pre-school it's probably not going to work now. It's a shame, really, because that was my move...

2. While talking up your talents is acceptable and encouraged, straight up lying seems to be frowned upon for some silly reason. Something about hospital liability or some nonsense like that.

3. Do try to avoid mentioning how many followers you have on Twitter. It's not impressive, it's awkward. Unless you are actually applying to Twitter, in which case have at it, but believe me on this one, whoever is reading your letter? They've got more.

Good luck with your applications, gentle readers. And for anyone who themselves graduated this past weekend, or any weekend in May, congratulations, and welcome to the Dark Side.

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