If you want to know what's happening in young people's lives as spring turns to summer, I can tell you in two words: cover letters. The most obvious objective of a cover letter to convey just how much you want any given job and how perfectly you'd fit in. The hard part is getting this across to the employer since the letter also needs to include a component of disinterest, as in, "If you ask me honestly, I could take it or leave it."
This got me thinking about how much easier it would be if people just wrote what they felt. In that spirit I've come up with a few models.
Cover letter 1: "You-know-you-want-me"
Dearest Mr. Watkins: Aren't we past playing games? We both know how it's going to go. I submit my impressive but subtle resume. You're blown away and want to call me. But, you wait a day or two not because you're swamped, as you'll tell me you are, but it's really because you have to play it cool.
We'll chat — or, sorry, you'll "interview" me — and I'll be charming but sharp, showing you just how much fun it would be to gossip with me while we get coffee, since we're both chill like that.
You'll hang up the phone with your mind made up because, really, I'm quite impressive and who else would you want to double check that expense report after hearing that I single-handedly ran a department at my old job? Then you'll wait a little until you finally hire me.
See how exhausting all this is? So really, Mr. Watkins, why don't you spare us both the time and effort by pretending you're not impressed with me and just hire me already. Give into my charm.
I'll see you at work on Monday, no confirmation needed.
Sincerely, Your dream employee
Cover letter 2: "Come-on-I-just-want-the-job-please-please"
To Whom It May Concern: Just gimme it! Please, God, I've had such a hard time this month, why can't I just get a break for once? I'm going to be fine at the job, and I really want it, okay? I'm not just saying it like everyone else. I really mean it. I want it and I'd be good at it. Come on, please?
I know how to answer the phone, I do it a thousand times a day when my hyper mom calls me over whether I've made sure my socks match and that I've packed a balanced lunch. And I have people skills since I've successfully navigated my sister's engagement to a man who turned out to be the drug kingpin in our town.
And I've learned all about the importance of details after my stepmother inherited everything from my father because of a small clerical error in his will. So really, just give me the job? I really do need it! It's not like I'm weird or anything. Just gimme it! I want it!
Looking forward to hearing from you soon (please make it soon, I need to buy some expensive cat cream)
Very Truly Yours, The guy you should hire, please!
Cover letter 3: "I-don't-actually-want-the-job-but-I-just-need-to-apply"
Dear Mrs. Woburn, I'm sure I look qualified, and maybe I am, but please don't hire me. I'm only submitting my resume because my father insisted. I don't actually want the job and I'd really rather not move to Winnipeg. But I'm submitting it so that I don't have to lie about it. I have the experience and I'm proficient in everything you require, but please ignore me. Can't you sense my resistance? If you think I sound less enthusiastic than other applicants it's because I am. I really don't care about this job.
Don't pick me thinking I'm different. Take my seeming indifference as disrespectful and don't mistake it for genius — I'm promise you I'm not a genius. I just need to tell my father I applied to prove my side of an old argument correct. Thank you for disregarding my application.
Hoping I won't be hearing from you soon
Best, Someone you should forget applied.
These are just a few possibilities. Others include the "I'm-literally-perfect-for-the-job-so-stop-messing-around" letter or the "I-might-not-be-the-best-but-I'm-not-the-worst" version, and last but not least the popular "I'm-hugely-qualified-for-this-job-give-it-to-me-I'll-be-the-best-ever" note. These kinds of letters won't get written, of course. We all have to play the game. And the game can sometimes even be fun. But if it's honesty you want, you might want to look elsewhere.