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Friday, January 31, 2014

Dear HR person who wants to tell people how to write a cover letter to make your life easier (Oh, NO you dit't!)

This was thoughtfully composed in reply to a commenter on this LinkedIn article . My computer's been glitchy & virus-like lately, and no matter how many times I hit SUBMIT, my pithy verbosity wouldn't go through. SO now I shall post it here.

First: the article, which I found interesting & helpful.

Then, what I wanted to say to the very first commenter (better get your coffee or whathaveyou, 'cuz you know how I get. . .) :

I find it interesting that the replies to this comment come from the employing side of the equation, not the seeking side. My suspicion is that a good number of job-seekers educated and professional enough to be investigating alternative strategies (scouring posts like these and their commentary for the route off this hamster wheel) are in the throes of desperation regarding their job search likely would join me in assessing the view you suggest as lacking perspective on the realities faced by recent job-hunters. That, or they're so defeated that they've stopped participating in the discussion. You sound like someone with no idea what it's like to conduct a dream-job oriented job search while wondering how long you can hold out before losing everything you've ever built. I for one, am in a position where I NEED to find a job - not the perfect career opportunity, not the perfect fit for me and the organization - within the confines of a geographic region that is notorious for being devoid of industry and well behind the curve in technology and innovation. Jobs are incredibly scarce, mostly labor (not even what I'd call blue collar). I've been told my resume will 'go further with decision-makers' if I leave off some of my education. I've been told that my cover letters are 'incredibly well-crafted'. I've been told I'm probably more qualified than some of the leadership for whom I would be working, if they hired me. Which they haven't. So, I rework my resume and craft each cover letter with the awareness that I NEED A JOB, but I can't overwhelm the hiring manager, don't want to undersell myself, all while balancing "Algorithm-based, keyword-searching processes that seek to match job-seekers with job openings by clerical means" and addressing the arbitrary, meaningless job descriptions in whatever explicit fashion the hirer prefers (but probably didn't specifically state). I've actually had a placement agent say I'd probably get better results if I didn't print my resume on 'grey paper, like this'. Upon comparing the paper to a nearby white board and a napkin on his desk, he agreed that the paper was white and it must have been the lighting. . .I subsequently pointed out to him that most resumes are submitted via electronic media, so I doubted my paper choice is the major hold-up. Now imagine if I hadn't been in the room to SHOW him that the white paper was white and he was the hiring manager on which my future hinged! Employers seem to have no idea how crazy-making, debilitating and absolutely soul-sucking it can be to feel that random dart-throwing has a better chance of hitting the target during a job search than any well planned strategy. I don't have the luxury of going for what I " really want intrinsically" because I AM "your (sic) unemployed and desperate" in an area where I'm 'overqualified' for anything that's available. And if ONE MORE PERSON says I should move to a larger city or other state for a job - perhaps they can also explain to my 8 & 11 year old why Mommy can't be with them anymore because 50/50 custody doesn't work beyond say 30 or 40 miles. If I leave this area for a job, it means forsaking custody of my children. I don't need the perfect intrinsic harmony of a romantic career fit. I need a job. Really soon. I HAVE to try to be whatever the employer is looking for, because that's the only way my children will have a mother and I won't lose my house. Sincerely, The Next Cover Letter whose resume happens to make it through your key-word screening process.