Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And then, there was the COVER LETTER

I am good at a lot of things.  I am passionate about a lot of things.  I am NOT, however, good at writing cover letters, even if the job is for something about which I am passionate.

A few months ago, I had an opportunity to interview for a job I desperately wanted.  In Tuscaloosa, no less!  All the stars were (finally) aligning!  I was on Cloud 9.

Well, except that two stars didn't feel like aligning:  the star that aligned to allow me to get back to Tuscaloosa for the interview, and the star that allowed for childcare while I interviewed.  I ended up doing a phone interview and -- well, it wasn't my best.  I didn't get the job, which always stings a little, but it was one of those situations where I replayed it over and over in my head, and every time I replayed it, I felt like I did just a little worse.  Chalk it up, brush yourself off, I didn't give my A game that day.  Gotcha.  Moving on.

Then a similar job opened in another school system.  Applied.  Still waiting to hear about that one.

Then my DREAM version of this job opened up with a major education/testing company whose name rhymes with Bollege Coard.  Yes, my friends, I am the math geek gal who would love, love, LOVE to work for this company!  I got the notification of the position in my email -- as luck would have it, the week of CAM and Mick's birthday.

Desperate for my resume to be amazing (and racing the clock), I did something I have never done: I put out an all-call on my personal Facebook page (side note:  now that I have a blog Facebook page, I get to make this distinction!  How cool is that?!  And by the way, I am working on a way to have Facebook automatically update when I post here.  It's taking me some time, though, so bear with me) asking for resume help.

I got some wonderful advice.  Sure, some of it contradicts, but when more than one person said the same thing, I went with it.  I am pleased with the result, and since I doubt I'll ever think my resume is perfect, I am content to feel much better today than I did even two days ago.  I will continue to improve the old resume, I hope, but I think it was professional and got the scaling back it so very much needed.

(Side note #2: If you've never written a resume for a federal job, it requires every last piece of information you can think of, and strategic specific words, and there is no length limit.  99% of the advice you receive will say to make it as long as possible and/or necessary to say everything you've ever done, using the specific vocabulary of the federal job posting.  So, when you've got one of those and you have to scale it back for a "regular" resume, it can be mind-numbing.  I was at that stage where I could no longer decipher what I needed to cut.  I needed fresh, critical eyes to help me see what was, in fact, ridiculous to include on a regular resume.)

But the cover letter?  Let me let you in on a little secret:  I have in the past skipped applying for jobs because I did not want to write the cover letters. No, they weren't my dream jobs, but still.  You get the idea.  I hate cover letters.  I feel as though I inevitably write something stilted, cliched, or waaaay too long.  Or, in my finer moments, I write something that is stilted, cliched AND waaaay too long.

And when I seek advice, it's all over the map and essentially useless.

But my goodness, do I want this job.  Which meant that tonight, I sat at my computer and just banged out a cover letter.

It's probably awful.

So, if you're reading this, HR, please know that I am a much, much better writer if it's about something other than, well, the introduction to my resume.

See?!  You read this far, didn't you?! Now imagine if you brought me in for an interview.  I'd be great. You'd love me.  I already love you.  We'd be a perfect team, we would. 


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