We’ve all had horrible bosses.
Experienced horrible workplaces.
Tried to subvert our desires to burn the building down, the glowing embers illuminating a shadowed form clutching their precious red stapler.
Rarely do we actually get to tell our bosses exactly what we think without the threat of being fired, being blacklisted by other potential employers, or being denied the oh-so-coveted recommendation letter.
Oddly enough, I was able to do exactly that, and still eek out a recommendation. Guilty conscience on his part, I presume.
Even though it’s great to always have a handful of recommendation letters–or contacts able to pen a quick one–at your disposal, I’ve always wondered if they carry much weight.
The same can be said for cover letters.
I mean, how many employers glance over said piece of paper (which took hours to write) before tossing it into a shredder and never bothering to inform said applicant that they were denied, leaving them to flounder in a pool of expectations clouded by ambiguity?
Not that I’ve ever experienced such distasteful, unprofessional behavior on countless occasions.
But the one way I always hear about making your cover letter, your resume, your plea for a fucking job stand out is to be you.
To be, *cough-gag*, unique.
Whether it’s by choosing a fun, yet professional font, selecting a wider margin, grouping your work achievements in annotated bullet form, we all seek to set ourselves apart in the most seemingly unique ways.
And yet, it’s bullshit.
It’s not who you are.
Who you are is the person wanting a job and frustrated as hell that you can’t get anything.
In an effort to put myself at ease, knowing that I put nothing but the truth out there, I’d love to send the most truthful letter possible to any prospective employers.
Dear Prospective Employer (PE):
I’d usually start out with my name. But you’re not interested in that. You want the bare bones–the gravy, the good stuff that sets me apart from the rest of the applicants’ cover letters lodged in that manila file folder on your desk.
So, I’ll be brutally honest.
You may notice from my resume that I have an MA in Anthropology. What can anthropology do for you? Well, I’m not sure. It hasn’t done a lot for me lately, either. Except forcing me to work with the tragic dregs of said profession.
But, what it has done is teach me how to tolerate stress, manage exceedingly overbearing workloads, and delegate responsibilities among peers. It also taught me a lot about people. I people watch as a profession. I glean bits of personal histories from the slightest reactions and exchanges, like judging whether it’s prudent to align myself with Coworker X, or join the rest who think she’s absolutely cray-cray.
I’ve had a smattering of teaching experiences, and can manage a high student volume, and remember most of their names. The names aren’t so important, but it scares them enough when I call them by name that they respect me a little bit more, or take me a tad more seriously.
I’ve worked with a diverse array of coworkers, and can get along with pretty much anyone. Other than bigots. Because I will stand my ground, and won’t back down until something is done to redress the situation (please contact my last employer if you require verification).
As someone with more interests outside of work, I like to think I can use those skills to my advantage, and perhaps yours.
I like to photograph interiors, and I have a profound love for interior design. I have no formal training with either, but I think I have more than a layperson’s ability to pull a room together. With a background in art, I can frame things in particular ways, or know what’ll look best with X, Y, and Z in this room, and play off the accents in an adjoining room. Coming at design with a background in the history of artistic and style movements helps me cobble together things in ways that are fun, functional, and accessible. I don’t strive to make everything perfect, because we’re not perfect people. People like to be able to live where they rest. I think I have an eye for helping people love a space, while not overwhelming them with a decor backstory.
Writing is a lot of fun, and is probably my number one hobby. I don’t really think of it as a hobby because I do it all the time. Even when I’m not actually writing anything. Every situation I experience gets translated into conversational snippets, and I enjoy recalling them to create a cohesive story line. I’m fairly good at editing, but don’t try to over-edit, because I’d prefer someone reinvent something they’ve written themselves–with me giving them a helping nudge in the right direction–rather than me red inking everything. Because, again, I have no formal background in writing, so who am I to judge?
I can organize events, cook a ton of stuff, get people to come, and pull everything off fairly seamlessly on a regular basis. As someone who likes to talk, I can network fairly well, and can talk to pretty much anyone. I like people to feel as though they can talk to me, and that when they do, what they say won’t end up being whispered to someone else. It’s all about team-building and networking, right? No one can just suddenly be something without some sort of support. I like to think that I offer a bit of that kind of support for some people.
So, there you have it. I may have two pieces of paper qualifying me for certain jobs, but I don’t want those kinds of jobs. Quite honestly, I feel as though I’ve learned more having traversed a tumultuous economy outside of academia, and have no desire to go back to an institutional organization. I’m glad to start off with a clean slate, at the bottom of the totem pole. I learn exceedingly quickly.
I want to help people. I want to create. I want to make people feel good about themselves through what I do. Those concepts are what I’d like PE’s like yourself to know.
Because all I need is a chance. I think you’ll be surprised.
And pleasantly so.