Applying for jobs is an arduous task undertaken by many but mastered by few. Some approach it like pilots armed with napalm: carpet-bombing job sites with generic applications. These may eventually hit their target, but cause untold havoc and collateral damage in the process. Those who take great pains to write, edit and execute each application with precision are often buried by the blasts.
Falling into this latter category, which is by no means the superior method, I can spend an entire day or more writing and rewriting an application. When words are your trade, everything you scribble down can’t help but take the form of a love letter. The intellectual and emotional investment is high, so when I don’t hear back my self-confidence is jilted.
I take the rejection personally, and as the days drip by and pool into weeks, and then months, ambition sinks like a stone. A sharp focus on an interesting job at a company you admire widens to take in less interesting jobs at companies you’ve never heard of. Eventually it includes jobs designed specifically to wring out your soul at companies you hate. Idealism yields to the bitch of reality.
Inspired by the many shades of black that give colour to the onerous effort of job hunting, the following letter was written with the purpose of addressing the needs of carping employers everywhere.
Dear Miss Fortune,
For the past few weeks I have been
languishing sending out cover letters and CVs hand over fist, applying for all manner of jobs. Not dissimilar to a gambling addiction, this requires tremendous commitment and offers little in return. But day-by-day, rejection-by-rejection, I am unravelling the great mysteries of the employable.
Of key importance is the word ‘dynamic’. This is a buzzword peppered throughout job ads; a word you must be ready to pounce on like a sagacious tiger. To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure what ‘dynamic’ really meant until meticulous research on Urban Dictionary revealed that it “describes the state of a person who is wildly charismatic when intoxicated”. By this measure, I am a real dynamo on occasion!
I have also discovered that employers value employees with polarised character traits. Please let me affirm that I am an outdoors team player who also relishes autonomous work in windowless rooms and ventilation shafts.
Of key importance is the word ‘dynamic’. This is a buzzword peppered throughout job ads; a word you must be ready to pounce on like a sagacious tiger.
I like to take charge and use initiative, but I also love the feeling of moist, impatient breath on the back of my neck. I am passionate about everything and utterly loathsome of whatever the opposite to that is. I can brake for a family of ducks or I can run them over. In short, I am a prudent, spontaneous, unostentatiously extraverted misanthrope with a heart of gold.
If you are still with me, I know what you are thinking: experience, where is it? Well, I have that too. Some say that experience is everything and while I agree, I also believe that it is transferable.
If you can control a herd of cows calmly and without violence, you can placate even the most demanding people in a way that keeps them satisfied and chewing cud. If you can survive as a musician and writer for almost a decade and not become bitter, you can carry out the most menial work with patience and grace. If you can get a class of twelve-year-olds to enthusiastically write stories in silence, you can maintain an attentive and strong presence over hardened criminals. If you can travel through India alone and unscathed, you can handle loud and intense environments, bad tempers, and carry on quite well despite the most perplexing mix-ups.
This is some of the experience that I can offer you. I can also show up with a friendly smile and work like someone who is happy to be there until you tell me to leave. I always put my best foot forward and keep my worst foot well away from fragile and flammable things. Oh, and I am just fantastic at being on time.
If you turn me down, I will of course trudge back to my desk without pity and type up more applications. I will throw spaghetti at the wall until something sticks and someone decides to give me a chance. But how I hope that person is you.
Cam Gilmour is a Melbourne-based writer and musician.