The other day, I applied for a job as a Publishing Assistant at Penguin Books Australia.
I did so through Seek, and during the application process came across two options, ‘Upload Your Cover Letter’ or ‘Write one now’. On an impulse, I decided to do away with whatever standard cover letter I had saved and instead started writing. I’ve heard just about every bit of advice you could imagine on writing cover letters and the correct way to write resumes, and to some extent, I’ve tried to follow the various guidelines out there about putting together a ‘professional’ CV.
It’s a particularly lifeless approach, I’ve found, and while it might be the best way, it’s never worked for me.
This time, I wanted to make it personal. I think the most frustrating aspect of job hunting isn’t being rejected – it’s not even being considered, not even getting the chance to sit in a room with somebody and convey just how much enthusiasm and passion you have for the subject. Instead, you’re lucky to even get a form rejection letter months after you’ve applied and you’ve no way of knowing if your resume or cover letter were even reviewed.
Writing the letter came as somewhat of a shock to my system. I just wasn’t prepared for the rawness of emotion that struck; I don’t think I ever consciously realised just how much it meant to me. I reflected on my childhood, on endless summer days spent running around, out in the sun with the other little hoodlums of my neighbourhood. I grew up in the suburbs of Western Sydney and no one of us was particularly well-off. The majority were just lucky to get-by, some few had parents that were able to occasionally buy them nice things. I thought about where all those guys, where my brother and cousin are now, and I shuddered. Some of them are in prison – the majority have been in and out at least, or are lucky to be holding down a job.
Their lives read like sad blurbs of urban decay, cliched footnotes on a graffitied wall. But what happened to me? How did I end up so far from them all? Continue reading