I’m about to embark on one of life’s most unpleasant tasks and I’m not talking about having to guzzle that pre-colonoscopy gallon of goo. No, what I’m gearing up for is much worse. I’m preparing to begin an intrepid journey through hostile territory, where all my weaknesses will be probed, my insecurities highlighted, and it will feel like my self esteem has gone one-on-one with a battering ram.
I’m getting ready to look for a job.
Right now, I’m in Stage One of the employment expedition, which means I’m running the résumé and cover letter gauntlet. Oh, the agony! I’d rather ride the Verruckt at the Schlitterbahn naked than tackle a résumé. A major problem is the mountain of misinformation about how long a résumé should be. Some authorities on the subject swear that it shouldn’t exceed one page. Others say if you’ve done it, list it.
Then there’s the whole goal/objective thing that you’re supposed to put right up there at the top of your résumé. Do you go all philosophical and list world peace as your goal? Because come on, who doesn’t want that and who wouldn’t want to hire someone who would want that? Or do you just share some good old-fashion truth as in, “My goal is to make money because my children’s college tuition will soon be killing me.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
You for sure don’t want to put down your real goal because that would scare people. For instance, my real goal today is to not harm my teenagers because I’m this close to going full cray on them. Good God in heaven, 15 and 18 years old and they still haven’t grasped the concept of hanging up a wet towel. It’s not like they’re lacking opposable thumbs. They have the body parts needed to pick up a sheet of terry cloth. Where have I gone wrong?
Once you get the résumé done it’s on to the cover letter, which I see as a total waste of time. Who thought up the concept of a cover letter? I Googled it and got nothing. You know why no one knows the founder of the cover letter? It’s because the demented, evil troll who birthed the concept is probably in protective custody due to an inordinate number of death threats.
Someone please tell me what purpose the cover letter serves? Is it like résumé Spanx? Do you use it as a tool to pretty up or compress unattractive employment truths? If I worked in human resources I’d be all about getting to the facts. I wouldn’t want to waste my time reading drivel like, “I feel my previous job experience has prepared me for undertaking multiple projects while maintaining a strong commitment to quality, the customer experience and fiscal responsibility — all resulting in a positive reflection in both the bottom line and employee team engagement.”
I just got a headache writing that. I can’t imagine being the person who has to read 100 different versions of that kind of blah, blah, blah every day. I’d be popping extra strength Advil gel capsules like they were Tic Tacs.
I have zero experience hiring people for jobs, but if I did, well, I would change things up. No, I would do better than just change. I would revolutionize the whole résumé/cover letter two-step.
My version would be called the “Cut To the Chase” (trademark pending) employment portfolio. All you would need to do is list your work history for the past five years and then under the heading “extra stuff” you could briefly pontificate on your volunteer work and/or awards. This award thing would also do double duty as a psychological profile. If a person goes on and on about their awards you know that, if hired, this employee would be the one that makes every meeting last two hours longer than it should.
Think of the time this would save anyone who works in the hiring field. You could plow through résumés probably 10 times faster. This would speed up the process so much that a company could probably even reduce the number of people working in human resources, thus saving money. See, what I just did there? I problem solved. Yep, I’m going to put that in my cover letter by calling myself a “conflict resolution specialist with an emphasis in employee consolidation and organizational time management.”
Wow, that sounded pretty good. Based on that alone, I’d hire me. Sure, I’ve raised children who can’t hang up towels, so that might reflect on my failure in motivating subordinates to achieve goals, but if I did some cover letter magic on that I could turn the whole towel thing into, “I strive to mandate positive change in a caring environment by role modeling behavioral experiences that will lead to long-term employee productivity.”
I think I just found my perfect job: Cover Letter Wrangler. You’ve got to admit the way I turned that towel thing around was most impressive.