It was bound to come along…and true to form it has: the dreaded “Quiet Week”. Despite the best of intentions and the most tortuous time applying for jobs there are always the brief periods of silence, awaiting judgement. “The calm before the storm”; “The temporary cessation of rejections”; “The deep breath before the plunge”; whatever cliché you choose to use, the fact of the matter is: it’s the crap time you have to wait for responses. So with cobwebs in my inbox I decide to turn my attention to one of the most painful aspects of mass-job-applying everyone in this position must face: The Covering Letter.
In this respect we all have something to envy Americans. Their optimism, confidence and all-round belief in their own excellence allows them to take this cringe worthy process and gleefully run with it. For the average (and I mean that emphatically,) Briton there are few things more excruciating. From the outset, this exercise in self-congratulation goes against the very sinews of ‘Britishness’. Take one website’s caveat for writing a covering letter:
“If you cannot make your cover letter great, the employer has no reason to believe you will do great work for the organisation either.”
The problem with this statement lies in one five-letter word: “Great”. It is not a word we Brits like to bandy about as west-coast Americans do with “Awesome”. Truly “Great” people lose said “Greatness” the second they admit to it! Take for instance a modern-day hero: Sir Ranulph Feinnes. No novelist would dare write the CV of their most garish lead character with half the accreditations that embody Sir Ranulph’s. “First man to completely cross Antarctica on foot”; “First person to visit both the North and South Poles by surface means”; “Oldest Briton to reach the summit of Mt. Everest”; he is even awarded the title of “World’s Greatest Living Adventurer” by the Guinness Book Of Records! Great. Great. Great!…But if he dares to admit to his greatness he will lose his Knighthood, notepad and knackers to the ruthless British public…and probably be exiled too, although I can think of fewer people more prepared to live out their days in adventure and travel. It is for these reasons (braving frostbite shows he treasures his notepad over his knackers for sure!) that Sir Ranulph makes modest comment towards his truly exceptional life so far.
And yet! A 25 year old from a relatively small town once voted “33rd Worst Place to Live in England”, with very little admitted life experience and a couple of pieces of paper to justify 5 years work at university, must now step up to the mantel and tell “Mr New York Times” just exactly WHY he is the most fantastic person in the world! And ignore that Feinnes fella…he’s full of crap!” Truly a mad escapade brim-full of as much enjoyment as running five fingernails slowly down the length of a blackboard!
So, in protest, I have decided to put together my own version of the ‘accepted vernacular’ covering letter. Brutal honesty should be an Olympic sport! As such, Team GB would take Gold, Silver and Bronze by default every time by making the other competitors weep to the familiar ringing sound of “I’m just saying”. For this reason I present “My (Brutally) Honest (Yet Truthfully Poor) Covering Letter.”
I am writing to you today because I am hoping against hope that you will recognise a desperate man’s plea for work in the first line of this Covering Letter – the only line of which you are, not doubt, likely to read whilst dismissing reams of tear-stained letters with the seasoned flick of a callously licked finger. I have been trying for months now to find a job and I came across this position (posted 3 weeks ago) today whilst trawling the local newspaper for jobs similar to, but infinitely more interesting than, this one I found.
I am a keen admirer of your company as it just so happens that you have low standards and are employing whilst I’m looking to be employed. You’re most noteworthy successes, however, came to my attention in the twenty minutes I spent researching the company after spending half an hour looking for the blasted website on Google. The range of Staff Writers you offer your readers is truly quite astonishing. On a steep continuum from ‘overly enthusiastic users of tired sporting clichés’ to ‘near-brilliant but even more near-suicidal cultural commentators’ you offer your reader a full spectrum of budding pessimism. I wouldn’t normally say anything but since I’m on the subject; my place in your little ‘outfit’ is not only vacant but entirely necessary it seems. Without a short sharp burst of optimism my only prognosis for your company, and your readers, is “imminent Grayness with lashings of Gray all over!” Why your writers seem to think the world needs to be reminded of its bleakness in every paragraph I have no idea, but somebody needs to tell them there are such things as Tom & Jerry, sunsets and guilt-free orgasms to wash down the day-to-day drudgery we are all faced with. I truly admire your persistence with their employment.
Why am I your ideal candidate? That is a tough question. Aside from the aforementioned optimism which seeps out of my pores like sweat in the Soweto, I would say that I am fairly average in actual fact. Just because I see the good where there is bad doesn’t so much signify a shift in post-modern thought as much as it signifies a fatigue of pessimism and a desire to LOOK for the good where I can. As you can see from my (pitifully short, yet painstakingly prepared) CV I don’t really have the desired “experience” for the usual Staff Writer position. You know this. I know this. So let’s move on! You, no doubt, have a number of very experienced staff writers eager to be in your employ but just think how incredible it would be to give somebody with no experience…some experience!?!?!! Imagine what that would do the cosmos!! Fish would walk on land and mankind would inhabit Neptune’s briny kingdom. OR, you would do a budding writer, with shedloads of experience-defying-Enthusiasm a massive favour he would never forget you for. Think about that the next time you hire the guy because of their “life experience”.
I should round this up now by giving you my contact information because that’s what all the “templates” say I should do. On my CV you have my home phone number, my work phone number, my mobile number, my friend’s mobile number, my email and (tortuously named) ‘snail-mail’ address. Should you need more ways of contacting me about a potential job then please feel free to contact a psychic medium. I will be on the well-trodden ethereal plane of hope/desperation/hunger (contact your Psychic Operator for a good connection). If you have made it to this part of my covering letter then I feel the need to thank you profusely for your time and I hope that you don’t consider it wasted.
As ever, I sincerely hope to hear from you soon.
Yours Faithfully and Grovellingly,