Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'The Anti Cover Letter'

A few months ago when I was heavily considering moving to Nashville, a friend of mine asked a quick questions about cover letters in the middle of my contemplation on what on earth I really want to do when I grow up. I didn't have a short answer. And between my self-searching and her cover letter inquiries, I accidentally wrote what I have come to deem as the 'anti cover letter', with which I seem to be not very alone. In our 20s, I think everyone expects everyone else to have it together when we're still trying to find our way - yet suddenly armed with the knowledge of what we want and what we don't want, what we are good at and where we can improve - but still unwise enough to determine our own specifics. Not that I think I can ever use what I wrote, but the ideas were thought-provoking to me nonetheless; and what emerged from them is as follows:

Dear ----,Often I find myself reluctant to answer the question, in regards to career: What do you want to do? My hesitation stems from not wanting to limit myself. Former Coca-Cola CEO, Doug Ivester once said “Never let your memories be greater than your dreams”. I interpreted this as a suggestion that we were limited by dreams; that life shouldn’t exceed what one might dream. I would prefer that my memories exceed my dreams. I would prefer that my next position – my next career move – exceeds any expectation I may have for it. I don’t want to limit myself in a cover letter or the answer to a question, because what I want to do isn’t as simple as the question implies.

What I do what is to be constantly learning; and growing; and gaining responsibility. I want to be changing with the times and always on the forefront of what is new, upcoming and the ‘next big thing’. I want to grow my strengths; self-management, leadership, analysis, a love for social media, writing, communication, outreach, and creativity, while building on my understanding of people and what will engage and delight the public (and what will fall flat).

I want to challenge my weaknesses by seeing them as a potential for growth. I have spent the past four (plus) years after graduate school managing an entire marketing communications department. While I understand that some see multi-tasking as a possible weakness, I know it a strength: a focus and a drive and a challenge to be won. It has helped the company survive a recession and grow business back again in a niche market where a small company is easily forgotten. In my many accomplishments at my first full-time position out of graduate school, I have found myself filling a multitude of rolls, as opposed to one specific function. I have no doubt in my work, professionalism or work ethic, but I fear that my qualifications on paper do not elucidate my full capabilities. 

I fear the lack of one specific marketing or communications focus will be viewed as a potential weakness, but I disagree. I know it it as breadth and I hope to take this breadth and transform it into my next step’s strength. I spent four years running a company’s marketing, communication and graphic arts department to build my resume and to know that my confidence in my work is validated, while prepare myself for a fulfilling career. And while I didn't find the answer to the ever-looming question in these for years – not the one that people expect, at least – I can say what I want to do is be successful. I want to continue to proudly take full responsibility for my work. I want to be an integral part of a company. I want to work with the public and understand its stakeholders, while opening the lines of communication. I want to be multi-tasking every day; always busy; always efficient; always with the same standard of quality work. I want to work I an industry that interests me and fuels a passion. I want to fall in love with what I do. 

I want to be open to any position that offers me these opportunities. The world of communication is too broad and ever-changing to pigeon-hole myself into a position with a simple answer - or view a breathe of experience as anything but a strength. It is ever changing and I am ever-understanding of those changes. I want my career and professional desire to reflect that. 

I know, given the opportunity at the right company that I will be amazing (and modest).  I will be the indispensible link that has been missing – or may have just needed replacing. My work ethic itching for the next step and my mind seeking my next great challenge,  I look forward to speaking with you about the communication needs at your company. I hope that you agree that my education, professional background, and, most importantly, enthusiasm, make me the perfect candidate for the position of ----. You will not be disappointed. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, [me] 

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