My Desperate Cover Letter

To Whom It May Concern At Random Possible Employer,

I am writing in response to your job posting on WHATEVER in which you were looking for a junior or entry-level employee. The job description is well suited to my abilities, and, I swear, I love your business more than my own mother. Your company’s efforts to expand into online territory by doing something completely useless and underutilized really piques my interest, and I’d love to be a part of the growth in that area. I’m a child of the web and I know how important it is to the success and future of whatever your industry is, so please let me beg you for a job.

In college I did a bunch of stuff that was difficult and pretty impressive but that you don’t really care about because it was college. For good measure, though, here it is: I was the editor-in-chief of a student-run, independent magazine that operated on real-life ads and was unassociated with the university, which means I edited and proofed every story, from copy to design. After graduating from E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, which is a name that means nothing even though I was sold the opposite idea, I worked at a non-profit doing grant writing to fund a heart-lead trip to Australia, where I lived with my partner and worked as a manager and barista at a busy Sydney café until I fell out of love, but that’s a story for a different time. I am currently freelancing for two blogs while acting as a co-founder and associate editor of an online literary magazine, but none of these sites have big companies listed in the footnotes, so who cares. I’m also hard at work on a book of essays, just like everyone else. I am really great at interpersonal affairs and will work my ass off until 5 a.m., but that doesn’t matter unless I’ve got a sizeable portfolio under my belt, which I really don’t have because of some not-great life choices in my year after college.

So, that’s that. I’m a pro at web stuff. I can Tweet, Tumbl’, Facebook, Pin, email, manage content, photograph, Photoshop, edit, and more, but I’ve got little published proof of it. So what really sets me apart?

I live in Nowhere, Ohio and have been out of work for nearly six months now. I have $25,000 student loans to repay, and I’ve still got $1,500 to pay off on a laptop I had to buy when my old one died during finals week. My mom makes minimum wage and my brother lives here, too, so I can’t really come to the city to intern for free, which really seems to be the pre-interview interview for most places. I am reading article after article about the failure of most graduates to launch, and I can’t figure out if they’re supposed to grant me peace of mind or make me feel sh-tty for being one of the 50% or whatever who haven’t found real work. Thoughts of suicide run rampant, and each bill received is like a little tug on the tight rope strung around my neck.

So, I’m ready to work. I’m ready to kick whatever job I have squarely in the ass. I’m ready to whittle away at that pile of bills in front of me, ready to do away with the silly notion of suicide and that feeling of hopelessness that I know plagues so many of my friends who have left and are leaving school. There is a place for us in the world, we who are untested but are willing to prove ourselves. We have no chips on our shoulders, are not the whiny Millennials we’ve been painted as. (Coddle me if you want, though; I won’t reject you.) No, I am a kid in his twenties who needs a chance to prove himself, and a paycheck to boot.

Let me do it for you; let me kick your company’s ass into high gear. We can help each other. But, just because I know it’s what you want to hear: I can help you, and will be an invaluable asset to your company, I swear. I’m not doing this for the money or myself. I just love your company. And you: I love you a lot, personally. I will love you more if you give me a job. So will my mother. Inappropriate amounts, we will love you.

Thank you for your time, and please have the decency to let me know if I didn’t get the job. Maybe sign the rejection letter with an xoxo, just to soften the blow.

All the best,

Shane Barnes TC mark


image – Erica Fkiaras


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  • Marc

    HR reps no longer read cover letters, so it’s a shame you spent so long writing this tongue-in-cheek story.

    • H

      Buzz Killington..

    • SaraLily

      part of my job is processing applicants when we have open positions and I actually judge applicants quite a bit on their cover letter! The effort does not always go unnoticed, sir!

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  • A.

    If I have to look at one more “form” cover letter, swear to God, I’m going crazy. Hint: quote the company name (correctly), copy and paste part of their “about us”, then rephrase to include how you do that, and specifically address one of their recs with how you do that. Bingo, I’ll hire you.

  • Matthew Mountford

    Ya, cover letters suck. Except this one. This one is awesome.

    Here’s my advice:
    1) Reduce your cover letter to an email with a list of 5-7 bullets of things that you have done that directly relates to the job posting. Your employer will appreciate your ability to make his job easier. I got 4 replies from 14 emails in the last two weeks doing this.
    2) Figure out how to make your “student work” look legit. People aren’t as smart as you think they are.
    3) If you’re so multi-talented, start something that looks really good as long as you have all of this free time. Like your own “online magazine” (blog…). Something that keeps you active and puts energy behind you. If you can’t do that, find an established blog and offer to contribute for free.

    While you are doing this, subconsciously give up on Journalism and pursue an industry that isn’t dying. Download Stanford’s free iOS developer course on iTunes U and learn how to write code instead of words. Build your own app and publish it in the app store. Then you can get one of the abundant entry level iOS developer jobs making $80k a year. In a year. Without spending a dime.

    As you work in a completely different field, keep writing for that online magazine out of passion and to keep yourself from becoming jaded and spiteful.

    Best of luck,

    • Arbie Baguios

      I really hate how it’s now acceptable/practical for people to advise others to give up on their dreams. Well, screw that. If I’m gonna be poor doing something I love then fuck it.

      • Matthew Mountford

        “Practical” isn’t something new. It’s just new to those who recently graduated.

        I didn’t say to give up on a dream. Just to be practical about making it happen. It is literally impossible for the massive amounts of Journalism students graduating to compete with the massive amounts of tenured Journalists losing their jobs.

        My suggestion is for people to pursue their dreams by creating their own opportunities. Like getting a job doing something else and starting a blog.

  • samanthaphoebe

    “Inappropriate amounts, we will love you.”
    Gorgeous. This is exactly how I feel when I’m filling out applications. Like JUST GIVE ME THE DAMN JOB, I WILL WORSHIP YOU IF THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES.
    But seriously, best of luck to you.

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  • riatarded

    This made me laugh so hard! hahahahahaha oh my!

    I have actually written a letter along similar lines and I did get the internship which was paid, THANK GOD!

    I need a real job though and I am actually reaching the point whereby I am very tempted to write cover letters like these.

    Just gimme the mother fudging job already!

  • Alanna

    “Cover letter obsolescence” commenters: You’re missing the point by miles and miles.

  • MAJA

    Hilarious!! :DDD This is the gist of every cover letter written in the world. Especially the love part :DDDD

  • pnut

    hahaha if I were the boss, I’d totally hire you.
    Ps: currently on the same shitty boat as you.

  • Tori

    …Scripps?! Would you happen to be the very same Shane Barnes that edited Backdrop?! If so, I am a huge fan! I knew better than to miss an issue or a release party during my undergrad! This was an entirely relatable piece, by the way. I hope you land a kickass job, you absolutely deserve it.

  • Jenna

    Feel free to apply for my cute-guy-who’s-great-with-words boyfriend application.
    No degree required.


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