“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

World's Best Cover Letter

Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.

--Pony Express ad

How about that for marketing?

Are you getting tired of following someone else’s template?  Tired of hearing you need a niche? Tired of saying you must have a platform?  Oh yes, and when Querying follow this format, for we don’t want anything that deviates from our prescribed system. And enter your work on this form otherwise, we won’t look at it.  Think out of the box, though. Knock our socks off. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I’ve been around for awhile, long enough to know who Max Perkins was, an editor who really helped hone his writers. How did I know him? I don’t  know, when I was enamored with Random House I guess. (Perkins was the editor at Random House and of geniuses such as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Wolfe.) Somewhere I heard that Fitzgerald—don‘t hold me to this, I may have the wrong author—couldn’t spell worth a darn. And it is reassuring to know how long he and Perkins spent trying to agree on a title for The Great Gatsby.

It may help you to know that a writer sent Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's book, The Yearling, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1938, to an agent and it was rejected.

In line with Querying, Marketing, Applying for jobs, this Cover Letter is too good not to pass around. 

By #Mary Shannon 

#Honest Cover Letter
Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to you because I really, really need a fucking job and this particular position with your company/organization, at this juncture in my life, seems good enough.

Your company/organization is appealing to me only because of its potential to provide me a salary, and a matching 401(k) program if I’m lucky. I am passionate about bullshitting my skills, and have done so in countless cover letters such as this one, and I hope to utilize this passion to serve your company/organization’s benefit. 
I may add a line or two here directly from your mission statement, to show I’ve done my research!
This position is listed as entry-level and requires 3 years of experience in addition to a Bachelor’s degree, and a Master’s degree is preferred. That’s pretty fucked up, so this is where I’ll try to embellish my one year of international non-profit experience to make it seem commensurate with additional experience in the field. Insert quantified outcomes here! I am confident I can translate this background to effectively [verbatim buzz-phrase from job posting] and [verbatim buzz-phrase from job posting].
I swear on my mom’s life that I was a really good student at my University (i.e. please don’t make me prove it by having to provide transcripts) and this part is where I’ll tell you about all the accomplishments I achieved when I was a student, hoping that you’ll deem them worthy of consideration as experience, and that you’re even still reading this letter. Now I’ll mention my undergraduate involvement with [student organization] and [student organization], student organizations dedicated to [something even remotely related to what your company/organization does], and use it as an example of literally any type of skill set you could possibly require. By the way, if you haven’t noticed yet, I have fucking great verbal and written communication skills, and I will say so directly here.
I understand you’re likely reading hundreds of similar cover letters from other young twenty-somethings who did everything they were told and did well in school and got their degrees and are now also facing the constant feeling of impending doom that is unemployment… but I can promise you that I’m different and unique and exactly what you need! I look forward to learning more about this opportunity as an employee with your company/organization, a company/organization with which my career goals and personal values only moderately align. I also look forward to any future occasion during which I can convince you to hire me. If I haven’t been abundantly clear, I’m very broke and need this. You can contact me at [email] or [phone number] at almost any time of any day because I’m usually not doing much aside from applying for other jobs, watching Netflix, and having panic attacks about my future. In the meantime, thank you for your consideration!
Mary Shannon