cover letter

Dear Sir or Madam or Mr. or Mrs. or Whomever, Whatever, You, Person,

I’m writing this predictably formulaic letter to a complete stranger about a job I only partially understand because I think I want it and assume it pays well (enough). So here are my three standard paragraphs, in the first of which I will inevitably refer to your organization/company/department/thing incorrectly because you have your own names for all that stuff and it almost surely doesn’t match what’s actually in the job description. And I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to figure out who the fuck you are and how to properly address you and just finally settled on what you see above because I’m tired of scouring linkedin, facebook, ecademy, fast pitch, twitter, fickr, match, pinterest, the rest of the web, and your dysfunctional website for information about you and the department thing I think this job might fall within. Then I got stuck on tumblr for an hour because this really is boring as hell and I’d rather look at pictures of pretty girls or boys or sunsets or skylines and beautiful quotes by famous authors and philosophers taken out of context and funny/awkward gifs posted by random eighteen to twenty-somethings whose blogs all look pretty much the same with font so fucking small it’s practically invisible and images of angsty love and confusingly hopeful bitterness and brutality than continue putting myself up for sale for a job I should probably get just because I’m competent and I’ll figure it out and you’d see that in an instant if you’d bring me in and talk to me and look past the structured, bullet-pointed life I’m presenting here. Oh, and in my zeal to get to the point I almost forgot to be specific: I’m applying for that one job—you know, the one posted on your careers page or job board or whatever. I forgot to include the reference number, so I’ve probably already been excluded from consideration because that so clearly matters but so it goes. Here I am.

Paragraph two. This is where the real fun begins, were I’m supposed to tell you why I’m such a perfect fit, why I was born for this job/role/position/opportunity and your presumably unique “work culture” and how I was raised in a laboratory run by the CIA on some obscure island in the Pacific specifically for the purpose of applying for this job. Not necessarily filling it but applying for it. Because I’m in no position to assume I’ll get it and it might be off-puttingly (ignoring spell check will put me right in the thanks-but-no-thanks pile but fuck it I’m being creative) presumptuous to speak as if I already somehow have it. But I am a genius, and all my work experience and life experience and academic experience and romantic experience and travel experience and volunteering experience and philanthropic experience and starship commanding experience to date has led me to this pivotal moment of truth where I find my true calling and write approximately four hundred words about why it’s so true and why you should trust my truth over the truths of who knows how many other perfectly engineered applicants who will all invariably insist upon precisely the same points. I’ve done this work before, but a little differently, elsewhere, and I’ll tell you how well it translates, maybe even imagining I can dupe you with a clever bit of narration into thinking that my last job really had anything at all to do with this one. I won’t address the fact that there are noticeable and noticeably consistent gaps in my experience or that in the last decade or so I’ve never stayed anywhere for more than about two years. And I’m overeducated with a plethora of degrees (I use “plethora” to sound intelligent and even mildly exotic to your average HR person) but that’s ok because it just means I’m really smart and you can give me more work than someone without my credentials; it means I can apply myself and jump through lots of hoops while pretending like those hoops are of my own creation and those jumps were willful. But on the other hand it’s quite likely you think that means I think you can’t afford me—because I think I deserve it, entitlement apparently being the essence of what is learned in grad school. Regardless of what you think I think, I know I bring a wealth of awesomeness, a grand, managerial, and respect-demanding yet disarmingly approachable physique, and a formidable scent that your organization/company/department/thing would be plainly fucking stupid to do without. This paragraph was way too long; I hope it all fits on one page by the time I’m done so I don’t have to go back and make difficult decisions about which bullshit lines to delete or shorten and which to keep as is. There’s nothing worse than revising something you didn’t want to write in the first place.

Now that that bit of semi-factual and fully shameless self-promotion is out of the way, I get to wrap things up and tie it all back to the very obvious fact that I just want the damn job. Or a phone call. Or an email. Maybe just a text, something telling me how nice it was to read my letter. Hey thx 4 ur lttr. Here’s my contact info, my linkedin profile, my blog addresses, fifty bucks, and a veiled plea that you just send/tell me something other than the after-much-consideration-we-don’t-give-a-shit-and-have-hired-someone-less-qualified-because-your-letter-that-took-four-hours-to-write-sounded-just-like-all-the-rest-and-you’ve-got-too-much-education-and-not-enough-experience-and-that’s-confusing email. I hate that email but it really seems to like me. Fine, I’ll just go get another degree.

Sincerely/Best/Regards/Good Riddance (please hire me—I promise not to get sick of it after three months and start looking for something else),

My Representative, because my true self is and must be absent right now

P.S. – What I’m really applying for is life, full-time. I know this (job) isn’t that, not at all, but I still don’t know where we send life applications—perhaps you can advise? You seem to have a lot of connections so maybe you’d be so kind as to refer me to someone who cares. Right now I’m just living part-time and it’s killing me faster than time does on its own. Honestly, there’s only one thing I want to do—well, three things, inextricable: write, live, and love. If you can somehow help me get to that I’ll be forever indebted. I need this so badly, you couldn’t possibly understand but I’m hoping like hell you do.


  1. Brilliant. I am also engaged in this soul-sucking endeavor and have my nose up so many imaginary asses I may never get it clean again. (Note to employers: nothing is beneath me. Just give me the goddamned sandwich board.)


    1. Ha! Imaginary asses are far worse than real ones. At least with real ones you know what you’re dealing with. Kind of makes me want to tell all those imaginary asses to go ahead and kiss mine. Ah, the joys of the hunt.


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