Cover Letters and How I Loathe them.

I hate writing cover letters. Hate it.

I know; next I’ll be telling you I hate the dentist, long lines, telemarketers, stubbing my toe, being cut off, or one of any number of extremely common pet peeves. (And oh dear god, do I.)

Yet, I rather enjoy writing. Usually I’m writing to myself. Sure, I write as though I’m addressing some anonymous audience, but in reality it’s me I’m writing to. I don’t expect others will want to read what I write, but I’m just curious enough as to whether others WILL read it, to post things like this publicly. I’m one part self-deprecating introvert, and one part lime-light seeking narcissist. I like to blame it on being an only child, among other things. I’m used to being alone, and at the same time I’m used to being the centre of attention.

The trouble is, I hate selling myself, at least in words. I prefer to demonstrate. I can tell you that I am a pretty good artist. I can draw well. I’ve got a good sense of proportion and shading. I can use a pencil to make images that look pretty damned close to the original source for the subject. I can shade in a way that gives shape and definition to the subject. I could go on, but NONE of that is as convincing as showing you my work. It also leaves little room for the self-deprecating portion of myself to start freaking out about sounding like an egotist.

Essentially, the same goes for cover letters. I can write about whether I can do the job, how well I learn, and the like. But it’s all just boasting without a physical demonstration. The only thing I can really prove with the cover letter is my grasp of spelling, grammar and language. Which certainly is helpful, but doesn’t exactly set me apart from the competition.

Again, I HATE selling myself. I suck at it. I can barely accept compliments from strangers who have actually seen what I can do without getting flustered, let alone complimenting myself. In my experience, there are people who talk about how great they are, and people who show it, and rarely do the two combine. I second guess myself when I try to write cover letters. I read and read and read samples online. I look for good ones and bad ones. Often I find what one site strongly advises, another recommends strongly against. Then I try my hand. Then I sit there reading it and wondering.

Do I sound too formal?

Do I sound too personal?

Was that cheesy? Boastful? Salesy?

I don’t want to sound like an automaton. I want to sound like me, but I’m afraid sounding like “me” will be sounding unprofessional. I want to sound human.

I’m just going to start writing what comes into my head and woe unto the poor HR person. I will probably end up as an extra special example on one of those advice sites about what not to do, under the “Look what this crazy bastard actually sent in to a company” category.

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