Employment. What is it? Where does it come from? What ontological characteristics does it presuppose? According to the Brunch Club’s demographic penetration analytics, you’re just as clueless about it as we are. So, we’ve commissioned known professional Travis Cannon to share with us some insights on the pleasurable business of making work work for you. This is part one of six.
I. Who Do You Think You Are?
In today’s world of dynamic teamspaces, community oriented business paradigms and ethically engaged creative co-working spaces, it’s more important than ever for an employer to have a clear understanding of who you are and what you need from a workplace. That means that you are going to need a descriptive, relevant and powerful cover letter. It’s your introduction! Capture an employer’s imagination, and don’t let it go until either your demands are met or it dies in your custody.
But how do you introduce your introduction? Well, the same way that you do everything: with great might and the blessing of the angels. Try writing out a headline that introduces who you are and what you need. Here are some examples of a strong introduction:
- Former blonde seeks precarious employment, bi-weekly carefrontations with middle management.
- Quiet but masculine brunette seeks work arrangement, responds well to constructive criticism but gets a sexual thrill out of public humiliation.
- Tall woman without savings account seeks commission based payment structure, occasional bagels.
- Disembodied voice coming from payphone seeks dog-friendly start-up environment.
- Tall man without children willing to offer self as tribute in Hunger Games-style battle royale, three years related experience.
- Recently exhumed skeleton of fallen warrior re-entering workplace, available to start ASAP.
- Experienced front-end developer seeking entry-level front-end development position (note: currently engaged in Mrs. Doubtfire-style costume caper, flexibility a must!)
- Broad-shouldered child model hungry for unpaid internship, willing to work remotely but loves to commute.
- Woman hunched over large, sky-blue egg seeks dishwashing position with fun, friendly team -- does have hustle!
- Self-styled thespian with shock of silver hair and blood-red cape seeks position as live-in handyman or cadaver groomer at kill shelter.
- Even-tempered man with a positive attitude and panicked, flashing eyes seeks fast-paced retail environment or pauper’s grave.
- Girl With the Pearl Earring-type aspires towards Office Manager position, prescription drug coverage optional but desired, familiar with (but suspicious of) Microsoft Excel.
- Shivering man being hunted by something seeks shelter, casual dress code.
Now that you’ve gotten the employer’s attention, the rest of your cover letter should be a quick overview of your moral character and general suitability to the position on offer. In the same way that a bird of paradise might dance a clever dance to court its mate, you, too, should offer an artful display of interest in partnering with your employer.
Start with an anecdote from your youth, perhaps detailing the first time you felt the searing fingers of Providence’s divine hand pressing you towards your future as somebody’s employee. It is important here to indicate that you understand that your entire life has been but an overture to your application for this position. All you are asking of the employer is that they might tug the rope in the wings and raise the curtain on what’s sure to be the first act of your real life. Here are some prompts to get you started:
“My mother kept a tidy pantry when I was a child. The jams, the jellies, the Borax in its glittering box all together and yet divided; everything had its place. Regarding the beauty of the ordered world she’d built in our home, I realized that data entry and concatenation would always play a central role in my life.”
“On my eleventh birthday my father came home with a large box wrapped in shimmering yellow ribbon. To this day I cannot remember what was in the box itself, only the whisper of that diaphanous bow upon its playfully decorated wrapping. From that point on I knew I would always be a prisoner to the glittering, shimmering world of in-store gift wrapping and customer care.”
“I remember the night our boarder Gabriel died like it was yesterday. I sat at the dinner table, one hand on his beautiful golden retriever, Tawny, and the other on the phone. The candles on the gorgeous, three-tiered chocolate cake I had made for him had already melted into the icing. Both mother and father had gone to bed already; they had long ago had their fill of waiting for him to return from his night shifts at the mine. I sat my solitary vigil waiting for him to return, but he never did. Scraping his food into the dog’s dish, I realized that bussing tables is not only a desirable and worthy profession, but a right and honorable duty. With plates still on the table, how would we ever move on?”
You Had Me At Hello, Don't Lose Me At Goodbye
Make sure to sign off your cover letter in a professional and respectful manner. It would be a shame for you to do all this work (before you've even gotten the job!) only to have it spoiled by a too-informal sign-off. There are no hard and fast rules around a sign-off. Saying goodbye is an art, and as such is something that you feel rather than know. Try out a few of the examples below and see which ones feel right for you.
- Respectfully yours,
- Looking forward to hearing from you,
- Your best friend,
- Ever at your mercy,
- Waiting by the phone,
- Panting at the thought of your voice,
- With love and obedience,
- Sick at the thought of life without you,
See, it's as easy as that! Now that you've got a captivating, authentic and (most importantly) professional cover letter, you're almost ready to start working on a curriculum vitae (latin for "Help me, I'm drowning!"). However, before we can responsibly move on to that, we'll be taking a quick detour inward to reaffirm just how good and special you are compared to the twitching wretches out there. So, please, join me in our next section "You Think You're Better Than Everybody Else?"