May 4, 2011

The Catch-All Cover Letter

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Dear Prospective Employer:

I would like to be considered for the position of [consultant/ research assistant/ paralegal/ office bitch/ barista/ dishwasher], starting in June 2011. My experience and qualifications have prepared me for a fast-paced environment and will allow me to thrive at your company.

First of all, thank you for looking past the bright blue Comic Sans heading on my resume (the people at career services told me to stand out, and online application submission has pretty much eradicated the Elle Woods scented-pink-paper approach).  I’m a graduating senior from Cornell University with a degree in non- business-or-engineering, and I am now getting slightly desperate to find employment before I graduate so that I can update my Facebook status and earn the 50 likes that I deserve. I will therefore spend the next few hundred words explaining how my involvement in the Monopoly Club has prepared me for this position as a(n) [consultant/ research assistant/ paralegal/ office bitch/ barista/ dishwasher]. I also managed to successfully communicate the answers to a Chemistry test to my roommate last year, which has helped to sharpen my leadership skills, not to mention my ability to work as part of a team. I am also, like every other member of my generation, computer literate and proficient in Microsoft Word, Office, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Access, Astonisher, Productivity Suite and Impresser, not to mention Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Photoshop and Spider Solitaire.

Also, I really love the work you do at [insert company name].  (This is where you do a Google search of the company’s name and make a vague statement endorsing the first bullet point from the mission statement). I promise to almost always arrive on time, or at least within a window of 15 minutes, and to look the other way at the occasional tax cheat or sexual harassment.

Please hire me! I sort of feel like a chode (that’s right, a penis whose girth is grander than its length) — my parents shelled out the big bucks so that I could become an Ivy League Graduate, but I couldn’t afford to spend three months working for free, so I spent my summers working at a shitty fast food restaurant instead of fetching executives’ coffee for 40 hours a week sans paycheck. I don’t have any sorority sisters to take advantage of, and my parents have no useful connections. So now it’s May of my senior year, and so far my best prospect for post-graduation involves sweatpants and my parents’ couch.

If only I’d had the foresight to put off the immediacy of my unemployability for as long as possible! I could have applied to grad school, or Teach For America. What the hell, teaching sounds okay, and I for sure like money and a resume builder, so why not? But when my peers were filling out their applications, I was imagining a not-so-distant future of being wined and dined by high-powered executives who would throw job offers my way. That turned out to be a bust, clearly, and the ratio of resumes distributed to interviews requested is more distressing than the number of student politicians who have chosen to campaign via rap video.

If, in the end, someone comes along claiming to have cured cancer at age nine, before helping dying children and also becoming the youngest pro-basketball player in history, by all means — hire the Wonder Kid (just don’t be surprised if his American Dream-worthy tale goes the way of James Frey’s Million Little Pieces). But if you have even a shred of decency and just 30 seconds to spare, please at least have the common courtesy to BCC me in an impersonal mass rejection email (seriously, 30 seconds is all it takes!). Don’t leave me hanging for three weeks, forcing me to agonize over the wording of a humble but slightly pressing follow-up email, only to wait yet another week for the arrival of an infuriatingly apologetic rejection from someone’s secretary, confirming my assured bright future — elsewhere.

Look, I am surely more qualified than some candidates, and certainly less so than many. I might not have the most impressive or extensive resume you’ve ever seen, but bullet points on a resume does not correlate to an applicant’s worth — if anything, they are often more indicative of his/her parents’ economic status. Like most college graduates who went anywhere other than the South Harmon Institute of Technology, I am smart, hard working and genuinely interested in maintaining gainful employment, so I will try really hard not to fuck it up.

Thank you for your time, and please do let me know if I can provide further information about my experience or qualifications!

Sincerely,

Adrienne Zable

Adrienne Zable is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at afz8@cornell.edu. Guest Room appears periodically this semester.

Original Author: Adrienne Zable