The Ormond Beach Observer is officially hiring, so Brian McMillan, our managing editor, sent me the listing he planned to post online to advertise the job.
The blurb was informative enough — know AP style, be a good communicator, etc. But it got me thinking about the borderline-absurdity of the job posting/applying convention as a whole, and how abstract go-tos like “self-starter” and “go-getter” are so often thrown around as if they actually mean something.
And just think about cover letters. Here you have a one-page monologue, written entirely in anonymous business-speak, in which hopefuls gush about how “thrilled” they are to apply for a job they know next to nothing about, alongside coworkers who might turn out to be group full of Urkels.
Now, I really shouldn’t be saying any of this — I understand the whole point of cover letters is to appear awesome. I’ve written a few of my own. But let’s cut through the guff and get honest here. Enough with the pleasantries.
*Note: I will have no role in the choosing of our next employee and will in no way be involved in the interview process. So maybe don’t cut all of the pleasantries. You should know that I have extremely little pull or authority, aside from that which I fake on a weekly basis in this column.
Here’s the gist of Brian’s listing.
“A retiring kindergarten teacher. A police chief. A Little League coach. ... These are typical interview subjects for a reporter at the Ormond Beach Observer.
“For a competitive, beginner’s salary, you will become an integral part of the community, telling the tragedies and triumphs of our readers in a fast-paced work environment.
“Looking for someone who can write clean, clear prose in AP Style and who is willing to run out the door to take an extra picture at a moment’s notice. Looking for a team player who is tech-savvy, a good communicator, a problem-solver.
“Email cover letter, resume and clips to [email protected].”
Now, here’s my version.
“A teacher, a cop, a coach — oh, what does it matter? If we tell you to cover it, guess what, you’re covering it. And do me a favor? Drop the attitude. You’re fresh meat around here; of course you’re getting the weekend assignments.
“For a pittance, you will become moderately remembered by certain community members when they see you from a distance at bars and in grocery stores. Stop. Make small talk. Always — nights, weekends, everything — be on the hunt for new stories. No, this won’t mean a raise — this is journalism; the sweet sting of a hard day’s work is your reward.
“And hey, remember: No lip.
“Looking for someone who writes well enough so I barely need to edit your stuff, because, really, it’s enough already. Looking for a team player who is tech-savvy, because my computer’s been on the fritz for weeks. And if you’re a problem-solver, that’d be primo, because my girlfriend and I aren’t in great shape. Also, my car won’t start.
“Email [email protected]. No cover letter. Just a resume and a headshot. Last thing we need in this office is another Urkel.”
BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR