A generous salary, a hybrid work schedule, robust PTO, and the ability to put that anthropology degree to use at long last. The commute: minimal. The employer: focused on work-life balance and making a difference. The work: rewarding and enjoyable. In short, I thought I had found my dream job, that is until I learned about the cover letter.
In life, when something seems to be too good to be true that’s usually because it is. As I read through the job description I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. A home gym stipend! Great. Yearly retreat in Playa del Carmen! Awesome. Signing bonus at 10 percent of your salary! Sounds fantastic. Salivating, I reached the end of the posting and read the dreaded line stating, “Applicants must submit a cover letter to be considered for this position.” There it was, the other shoe. Submit a cover letter AND fill out the entirety of an application. Why don’t they ask me to move mountains while I’m at it? I’m no Greek God. I can’t just sit down at a laptop and write you an essay about myself. My name is Dylan, not Zeus. You want me to weave a thoughtful narrative that details how my past experiences make me an ideal candidate for this specific role? Sounds great, but to do so would require me to be a different person; a person who possesses a strength unknown to humankind. My name is Dylan, not Clark Kent. I thought this was a job for college graduates, not mythological figures and handsome aliens.
But it’s the job of your dreams! Isn’t it worth putting in a little extra work? I don’t think it is! We’re not talking about a little extra work, we’re talking about a cover letter. They might as well be asking me to wrestle Stone Cold Steve Austin or catch fish in a babbling brook with my bare hands. Honestly, those two things would be easier than writing a cover letter. I wouldn’t even know where to start. “Hi, my name is Dylan and I believe I would be a great candidate for this position.” That stinks. They would never hire me with an introduction like that. For all I know the other candidates have Pulitzers and are direct descendants of J. D. Salinger. The only person I am related to who has any writing experience is my Uncle Tim who posts long conspiracy theories on his Facebook page.
As if writing the cover letter isn’t the worst of it, they go on to say in the posting, “Tell us what makes you the perfect candidate for this position. Remember to have fun!” Have fun while writing a cover letter? Are these people unwell? That’s an entirely new added pressure on top of writing the thing. It’s hard enough to know what to write about myself, but now I have to be smiling and whistling as I do it. I wouldn’t even know how to structure the thing. Would I do an introduction that succinctly states why I am interested in the role and then do a couple of paragraphs outlining how my past work aligns with this position and then maybe a conclusion where I suggest some ideas or initiatives that I would bring to the role? Nobody is going to want to read that.
My current job is low-paying, monotonous, and my bosses call me “Chief” and “Bubba,” both of which I don’t like. I concede that this new position would be a major upgrade and would probably improve my quality of life, my overall happiness, and my ability to connect to other people. However, all of that pales in comparison to the pain and suffering that comes with writing a cover letter. It may be the job of my dreams, but I can’t write a cover letter.