I'm an optional cover letter requirement, allow me to ruin your entire afternoon

‘Don’t give me that look… no one’s forcing you. But you do want this job, right?’



Look, I know you already spent ages preparing a resume tailored to this job application which concisely summarises your experience, qualifications and skills, but just to circle back, would you mind reiterating all of that in a one-pager for me? It shouldn’t take you long.


Now before you roll your eyes, remember, I am optional. So, if you do want to just half ass this job application, don't say I didn't give you the opportunity. Go ahead, click ‘Next’ in the application form and I’ll be out of your hair.


Just know that as soon as the hiring manager opens up your application, and sees that I’m not there, you're probably going straight into their digital wastebasket.


So you may as well surrender now. Otherwise you'll just be wrestling with yourself about whether leaving me out was a mistake, even after you inevitably get that automated rejection email. And that could take months.


Settle in, make yourself a coffee (even though this will likely elevate your anxiety), crack open a word doc, and let’s get started.


Don’t worry, this is only the most painful form of writing: professional, first person, ‘please like me and see that I’m qualified but also please believe that this job is my destiny’, elaborately floral drab.


You should be finished by the time the sun goes down, which will be nicely symbolic for the descending and darkening nature of your emotional state.


Now I know what you’re thinking, so I’m going to put a stop to it here. Don't you dare pull out that cover letter you wrote five years ago for that entry level retail job and just ‘give it a touch up’. That cover letter sucked. No one cares about your high school leadership positions.


And don’t you dare download a free online template and just fill in the gaps. This isn’t a time for shortcuts. You need to prove to them that I'm the only cover letter in your life, even though you probably have at least 15 other tabs open across three other job posting sites.


Come on, it’s easy. Start things off nice and simple. Just condense your entire background and identity into one neat paragraph, but do it in a way that’s appropriate for this prospective employer to understand.


Stop backspacing every three words. You’re only making it worse.


Make sure you cover every single point on the list of key competencies. Oh, you only meet 4/12? Well, get creative then. Creativity is a really important skill, you’ll definitely need it for this job. So you may as well apply it in this cover letter.


Ok, so you’ve written two paragraphs and feel like you’ve already said everything there is to say? How hard is it to write another two paragraphs for the sole purpose of filling an entire page?


Wait, you’re not going on about why it’s your lifelong dream to work at this company, are you (even if it’s true)? There’s a time and a place for your authentic self. This isn’t it. Be professional. Try talking about how much you respect the company instead, and how you envision their growth over the next five years. It’ll only take a lot of research.

Ok, are you done? Great. Throw some ‘kind regards’ on the end. Or ‘yours sincerely’, dealer’s choice.

This is really important. Make sure you proof me thoroughly. I really need this attention from you—you're probably the only person that will ever read me.


See? That wasn’t so bad, was it? It’s only 8pm. Time to load me up. Oh, you forgot to download me as a PDF? Could you sort that out? Please and thanks.


Great work, slugger. Now you can sit back and take the rest of the night off. You’ve got a big day of self loathing ahead of you.


And if you think I'm a pain in the ass, wait until they ask you to provide your salary expectations without any indication of their expected range or budgetary constraints. That’s where they really get you.



Originally published on Points in Case: https://www.pointsincase.com/articles/im-an-optional-cover-letter-requirement-allow-me-to-ruin-your-entire-afternoon