Writing the body of a letter is always hard for me, particularly since most letters I write today are formal; actually, most letters I’ve written have been cover letters as part of job applications. (I mean, who really writes letters anymore otherwise, right? Sad but true.)
Although I’ve held decent jobs over the years, I’ve always felt that the process of being hired for them has been unnecessarily complicated. That’s why cover letters are hard for me. I know that social convention requires that I say certain things and omit others, yet sometimes I want to write something completely different — but for the sake of being professional, I don’t.
But I figure now is my chance to get years’ worth of frustration off my chest, particularly regarding the times I’ve written to employers who are less than courteous. So, here’s what I’d have liked the body of my cover letter to have said in those cases instead:
Dear Prospective Employer,
I’m writing to apply for the (insert job title here) opening as posted on your website.
I know I could, and should, use this letter to further demonstrate my skills and expertise — but I hate doing that. Most of it is all on my resume that’s included here, plus I know all of that info will be asked for all over again on the web-based employment application that’s also required to be considered. I hate typing that info in for every job I apply to, so I definitely don’t want to bore myself (and you) with expanded, yet similar, details a third time in this letter. Besides, that would take time away from me Googling random info you ask for on your application, like my high school’s exact address and phone number. I always mean to store those details somewhere but somehow never do. This is why I love Al Gore for inventing the Internet.
But I digress. What I’d rather use this letter for is to tell you what I think of the job opening you’ve announced and why I’m applying to it anyway. You wrote that you’re looking for a conscientious, motivated employee — that’s me. You wrote you need someone who can (list specific job functions here). As you can see from my work experience, I’ve already done that, and more. You also mention this employee needs to be open to regularly working evenings and weekends in addition to standard business hours. This is less than ideal, but I know I’m not allowed to ever say that or even think it. It’s not that I’m not a hard worker or willing to work late sometimes, it’s just that once it becomes a frequent thing it kind of ruins my efforts to keep up with my laundry or shop for groceries. Oh wait, I forgot — I can do all that by cutting back on my sleep and fun. Silly me, expecting eight hours of sleep a night and maybe some free time for playing the latest Professor Layton release for my Nintendo 3DS. (Yes, I do still play select video games sometimes. Why can’t I admit that? I swear I read a lot of books, too.)
Apparently, I’m supposed to want to sign my life away for a job that will likely underpay me and micromanage my work, despite the fact that I’m a mature professional who went to graduate school in an attempt to better my life and be able to use some discretion in my day-to-day tasks. I suppose this is why some people dream of going into business for themselves; I’d like to also, but I know I shouldn’t say that either or you won’t hire me since I might be a flight risk.
My point is, I’m applying to your opening because I know I have the skills and traits you’re looking for, and, to put it simply, I need the job. That doesn’t mean it has to be my passion in life, or even fun for me — just something I moderately like and am capable of doing well for you so I can bring in an income and pay my bills.
That means I would appreciate hearing back regarding my application, as opposed to the all-too-common scenario of applying and getting no response. Not even a “thanks, but no thanks.” Sure, I know you’re busy and get tons of applications; I do get that. I’ve hired employees before and know what goes into it. But I always made sure to at least send something to the people who took the time to consider the job I was looking to fill and went out of their way to jump through hoops to apply for it.
I won’t mind a standard rejection email; what I do mind is spending a couple of hours tailoring a letter to you, completing your detailed web application, submitting the required references list and contacting those reference sources to foolishly/optimistically inform them they may hear from you (it’s only right to give them a heads up) — and then getting nothing but crickets and tumbleweeds as my “response.” Considering that I am also applying to jobs other than yours (yes, I shouldn’t have to pretend you’re my one-and-only), it’s very demoralizing to not hear back from multiple employers.
I’ve heard it said that no response is a response — but am I crazy to think that’s just too rude to be acceptable, especially when it involves something important like a job application? I’m not sure when it became okay to ignore people in this way; I mean, if I called you or came into your office, you couldn’t pretend you don’t hear me talking to you, could you? (Don’t worry, I won’t call or come by — your job announcement makes it very clear that’s not welcome.) So why is it okay to ignore me when I email you in response to you putting it out there you have a position you need to fill? That’s like me starting a knock-knock joke with someone, but when they answer with the requisite “Who’s there?” I say “SHUT UP! I DON’T WANT TO TALK TO YOU!”
OK, maybe it’s not exactly like that — since you don’t bother to say anything to me in response. But that’s how the silence feels. Like the ultimate bait-and-switch. “We want someone with all the skills, interests, experiences and knowledge you have who is willing to devote most of their time to us and can also complete steps x, y and z. If that’s you, contact us! Oh, that is you? And you and you and you and….? Eh, screw all of you, except for maybe three of you who will be contacted for an interview.” And who knows if the two interviewees that you don’t hire will even hear back after that.
I know as an employee you’ll pay me, not the other way around, so that makes you feel you have the upper hand. Sadly, especially in today’s economy, you usually do; but that doesn’t negate the fact that your employees perform hours and hours of work for you which will, in turn, bring money in to your operation by allowing it to run successfully. So could you at least acknowledge and appreciate the fact that I’m offering to fill that role for you? I know out of all the applicants you’ll hear from, especially those with qualifications similar to mine, that I may not stand out. But just tell me. That’s all I ask. Especially considering the fact that you didn’t even list many benefits for the employee in your ad — not even the salary you intend to pay! — yet in good faith, and in need, I applied anyway. Think you could at least say something in response? Given the extreme imbalance here, I don’t think that’s asking too much.
I didn’t mean to go on for so long about wanting to hear back. I know I’m not supposed to expect or admit that either. I’m supposed to divulge personal details to you about my background, passions and goals but be okay with being contacted only at your whim. I apologize for sharing my true feelings about this, but I have to break it to you — I’m a human. With feelings. Not just a prospective employee robot that has no pressing needs and can mass-produce job applications in seconds like an emotionless automaton. (Why does your application even ask me to fill out that verifier to prove I’m not a bot? It seems to me like that’s what you’re actually looking for.)
So I just couldn’t write one more letter begging for a job without stating some of my needs as a person. I don’t think that’s so unreasonable; I have grad school loans I took on to get the qualifications for your job (yet have been disillusioned to find that my education is rarely ever utilized regularly in these positions that supposedly require it, but that’s a whole other letter), so if you’re not going to hire me, the least you can do is tell me. It might make me feel a bit better when my next loan bill comes in and I have to scrape together the funds to pay it. Maybe as I resort to selling some of my stuff online to make ends meet I can take a quick break to read your rejection email and think, “Well at least they got my application,” as opposed to wondering if maybe it never even made it to you or that perhaps I’m invisible.
In closing, please take a look at my resume and consider me for your job. I know, and I’m pretty sure you know, that I can do it — and do it well. But if I’m not a match for you for whatever reason, I’d still appreciate hearing from you. I’m an adult and so are you; we can both take it.
I know a rant cover letter like that would not get me a job. But it was satisfying to write here — so thank you, LindaGHill, for choosing the word “body” as this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. Now the chip on my shoulder is a bit smaller and lighter!