Tuesday, February 6, 2007

PART ONE: My Cover Letter

[Editor's Note: As part one of my four part series on how to get a great job, I explore the craft of creating the perfect cover letter. I've provided the following sample letter as a jumping point to learning important aspect of structure, voice, and tone. While your resume (Part Two in the series) can inform a potential employer of both your professional and eductational training and experience, it is your cover letter that gives your job search its heart. Read on.]

Dear Mr. Kapitanski:

I was very excited to learn of your search for a District Sales Manager. I believe my sales experience and personal abilities make me uniquely qualified for this position. My resume is attached.

As you will see in my resume, my sales experience runs deep. Prior to my five years with eBay as an Independent Collectable Plush Toy Broker, I worked with a small vertical sales outfit called CryloZap, Inc., where I was recognized for consistently breaking monthly sales targets and for being the only associate to avoid federal indictment and prison time during the company’s unfortunate financial misunderstandings with the Federal Trade Commission. I was also exceptional for being the only CryloZap employee to turn state’s evidence.

But it is my personal abilities that best define my work ethic and my exceptional drive. Admired for my success with the ladies in the workplace, I have achieved the distinction of being a defendant in dozens of sexual harassment cases brought by both men and women, providing ample precedent for future cases and having my name become synonymous with legal machismo in the annals of both federal and state tort law. (The eighth edition of Black’s Law Dictionary defines Corey-fication as both a legal tactic and a sexual position.) I think my record of having never been convicted of a crime in any of these cases speaks volumes about my personal tenacity and perseverance!

Even more important than these skills and experience, I possess a genuine and endless enthusiasm for volunteerism. This is evidenced by my work for Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Boys and Girls Club—prior to my unfortunate blacklisting by both organizations.

The opportunity to meet with you would allow me to express personal characteristics that cannot be reflected in a resume. I look forward to this opportunity. Please feel free to contact me to set up an interview. You won’t be disappointed.

Thank you for your consideration and time.

Warmest regards,

David Corey


1) Use words that express an almost cultish enthusiasm for work of any sort. Remember: While you're resume will provide you with the opportunity to fake the facts, a cover letter puts you in the unique position of expressing falsehoods about your character. So don't hold back! Notice how the above letter uses such terms as "endless ethusiasm," "excited," and "personal tenacity." Avoid using the word "maniacal" however.

2) Avoid offensive language at this early stage. Remember: Crude language should be saved for the interview. For now, be respectful. Notice how the above sample says: Please feel free to contact me to set up an interview. You won’t be disappointed, rather than: Call me or I will cut your throat. And once I'm done there, I'll hunt down your family and cut their throats. Threatening violence at this stage suggests a familiarity with your potential employer that is not yet there. Keep your rage muted unless applying for a government service position, such as the Department of Social Services or the DMV.

3) Cite professional successes and personal ones. Notice how the first paragraph (after the short intro) highlights professional experiences that make the potential employee unique. The following paragraph takes the next step and illustrates personal successes that may not have contributed a company's bottom line, but which are important examples of an employee's uniqueness of character. (The third paragraph then takes the important step of highlighting humanitarian work.) Simply, be proud of your professional and personal achievements. Some examples might include: double-jointedness; hidden tattoos; amount of weight you've successfully benchpressed; the size of your penis or breasts; STDs contracted; such measures of street cred as the killing of rival gang members, number of ho's turning tricks for you, and your net sales of chalk, crank and crop in your neighborhood of control; or number of times ejected from the stands at a major sporting event.

4) Do not mail body parts with your cover letter and resume. In some cultures it is a sign of respect to mail a tuft of one's own hair when applying for a job, while in other cultures mailing the body parts of your sworn enemies along with an employment query makes an important statement to a potential employer regarding your level of familiarity with the dark arts, thus bumping your resume to the top of the heap. But this is no longer the case in American culture. Some companies are deluged with hundreds of applications for each job posting and the presence of matted braids of hair, bloodied fingers, and war masks made of human flesh only slows the process. These days, a cover letter and resume sent without body parts is much more likely to catch the eye of your future employer. (The same holds true for dead rodents and live snakes. Be creative. Pack your envelope with glitter covered in spray adhesive.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

New Years Resolutions

In 2007, I'm determined to stop taunting the miscreants and the homeless. No more name calling. No more offers of free booze and a kick in the teeth. No more forcing them to wear women's clothing and make-up for my own cheap thrills.

In 2007, I will stop referring to my canker sores are 'mouth cancer.' Though it helps me to better appreciate and cherish the short time we have in this world of ours when I think of my little mouth ulcers in this way, some people have suggested that it's a bit insensitive to those who DO have cancer.

In 2007, I will stop obsessing over the possibility that cats might someday gain the Darwinian upper hand by developing opposable thumbs.

In 2007, I will live each day as if it were my last. By this I mean I will have sex with strangers, steal, cheat, lie, shout angry epithets, and tell people how I REALLY feel without the fear of consequence. After all, I'll be dead tomorrow.

In 2007, I'll be more respectful of women…or I will give it my best shot. And if my best shot isn't enough, I will lower my expectations until my best shot is enough.

In 2007, I will remind myself that the earth is a fragile place, and I will take special care to ensure that I replace my divots after every golf swing, no matter the condition of the course.

In 2007, I will reduce, reuse, and recycle. But mostly I will just reuse.

In 2007, I will no longer respond to every friendly question with a physical threat. I will remember, for example, that if someone asks for directions or the time of day, it is NOT a menacing physical threat, but rather a friendly request for information.

In 2007, I will stop with my periodic attempts to have conjugal visits with women in prison—women I don't even know. Also, in regard to prison, I will stop trying to pay for everything with cigarettes, as I now realize that this is not a form of currency in the outside world, despite its high value in the Big House.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A 'Get to Know Me' Quiz


1. When given a copy of the book 'Soul of Vermont' as a gift during his book publishing job interview, David said…
a) “What I love most about Richard Brown’s work is that he dares to populate his country scenes with people.”
b) “It’s nice to see a photography book about Vermont that is substantive, rather than pandering.”
c) “The colors are so sharp.”
d) “What else are you giving away?”

2. When asked for his headline ideas for the back cover of the upcoming edition to Connecticut: An Explorer’s Guide, David made a strong first impression on the managing editor when he suggested…
a) “Discover Connecticut: From the Quiet Corner to the Gold Coast”
b) “Explore the Nutmeg State!”
c) “A wealth of historical and natural beauty.”
d) “Ten pounds of state in a five pound bag!”

7. When David noticed that the television was eating up more and more of his three sons' time he…
a) Made a house rule that limited daily viewing to a half hour per day.
b) Turned the TV off and drove the boys to the library.
c) Cancelled their cable package and converted their TV into an end table.
d) Decided that—when you really think about it—important, hard-learned values like sharing and friendship and honesty seem so much more convincing coming from a guy wearing a giant bear costume.


Recently, when David told his oldest son that the two of them we going over to Grampy’s house, Sam exclaimed…

a) “Hooray! I love going to Grampy’s house.”
b) “Great. He and I can share a glass of chocolate milk.”
c) “Can we get a treat along the way?”
d) “Yippee on the uterus!”

When David finally invested in a camcorder last winter, the first thing he wanted to film was…

a) His three children, because he should start recording the memories as soon as possible.
b) The glory and beauty of the freshly fallen snow outside.
c) The entire family expressing their New Years wishes.
d) His naked back, because it’s one of the few parts of his own body that he had never seen.

Despite David's oldest son's attraction to arts and crafts, David tries to discourage him from pursuing this as a career because…

a) While it may prove fulfilling, the life of an artist is a tough one.
b) His son has many other gifts and talents that are also worth pursuing.
c) David believes that his son should see the world before ever considering a career.
d) His son gags when he’s in the presence of paper maché.

As David looks upon his three sons at play, he sees…

a) The three men that these young boys will soon become.
b) Three joyful little souls taking in the world around them.
c) How the sum is greater than its parts, and that each makes the other shine even brighter.
d) Uncertain genetic experiments.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Dear Jane Letter

My dear Jane,

There is no easy way to say this. But let me start by telling you that you’re a very special woman. I’ve done my fair share of dating, but never have I met someone so obviously lively and intelligent as you. That is why writing this letter is so difficult. Recent disagreements and misunderstandings between you and I have pushed me to re-evaluate our relationship, and I should tell you I’ve resolved to part ways with you. I’m sorry, Jane, but it’s over.

I’m sure you’ll be asking yourself “Why?” I can understand your pain, as I’ve certainly been in your shoes a few times myself. So for the sake of making a clean break I thought I should lay out some of my reasons for parting ways.

I took particular offense when, on our second date, you exclaimed, “All men are such pigs!” I couldn’t help but think that somehow you meant I was a pig. Perhaps it was the use of the word all, or the fact that you were poking me in the sternum with a hooked finger as you were saying it. (By the way, your finger left a bruise.) Whether you meant to or not, I must point out that you snarled yourself in a sweeping generalization—not to mention that men and pigs are of completely different species, and are, therefore, mutually exclusive. Don’t get me wrong, man-pigs may exist. As a child I once saw a man-dog at the County Fair, so who’s to say there aren’t a few man-pigs out there. But to assume that all men are part pig is simply ridiculous. Unless, of course, you were merely speaking metaphorically.

Positive communication became an issue for me, Jane. At first, our late night phone conversations had a nervous “teens-in-love” tone, and the romance was almost palpable. Remember how I would call you multiple times, and you, disguising your voice, would say you were “Jane’s roommate”? This was cute, since I knew you lived alone, but the frequent hang-ups got old as time wore on. When you had your phone number changed I had a difficult time getting through to you. And you seemed cool and distant when I’d wait for you to get out of work, sometimes sitting in the parking lot for hours with my car engine idling. Frankly, Jane, the romance faded.

I thought that creep was your private pet name for me, so you can imagine how alarmed I was when your friend, Joey, showed up at my apartment and asked, “Are you the creep who keeps calling Jane?” At that moment I thought: what other private details of our love had you shared so openly? And then I thought: why is Joey pushing his way into my apartment? And why is he hitting me?

Certainly, I’ve done many things of which I’m not proud, and I wouldn’t want you to think that this break-up is all your fault. Despite my denials, I was the one who slashed your tires. I meant no malice by this. In fact, the story behind the whole incident is a funny one, and perhaps some day I’ll tell all, and you and I can have a good laugh.

In addition, I was not “throwing rocks” through your window, as the police report says. I was merely tossing pebbles at your bedroom pane to get your attention. Clearly, I misjudged the size of the brick I threw, and I apologize for the misunderstanding that ensued. Although, in my own defense, I have to say that your lawyer was being unfair when he referred to me as “crazed.” Was Romeo crazed? Or Prince Charming? I fear his statements might have tainted the jury against me, especially his frequent use of the words “obsessed,” “demented,” and “human time bomb.” (I’m not even sure what a human time bomb is, but I’m assuming it’s not a compliment.) This was the final straw.

So when you walk into the courtroom tomorrow, don’t expect any more loving glances or stolen moments. Don’t expect me to blow kisses or exclaim loudly “I AM THE GOD ALMIGHTY!” Those days, my dear Jane, are over. I feel that it’s best we just go our separate ways, like in Casablanca—you know, the final moment when Humphrey Bogart looks deep into Ingrid Bergman’s eyes and calls her a kid? That’s how it feels sometimes. Perhaps we’ll enjoy one last embrace at the sentencing.

Bye for now, my love.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

I’m writing in reference to your story “Mayor Pushes for Cleaner Park,” from the March 23rd issue of your publication, which highlights the mayor’s recent speech regarding the need to control the squirrel population in Van Binten Park. I take issue with a number of the points in the mayor’s speech, as well as your newspaper’s obvious bias in favor of his plan.

ISSUE 1: The mayor claims that the growing number of squirrels has led to an increase in trash in Van Binten Park, as the squirrel population gets out of control and more of these rodents compete for a limited food supply by rooting through garbage cans and the pockets of tired, old men. But it’s clear from his statement that the mayor has a limited understanding of squirrel foraging patterns. The sup-species of the Eastern Gray Squirrel (sciurus carolinensis) that inhabits Van Binten Park is known as sciurus carolinensis canis, or more commonly: The Wolf Squirrel. Wolf squirrels are not foragers, as everyone well knows, as they seek only live prey for their sustenance. Therefore, they cannot possibly be the cause of the trash problem. However, I do believe they may have something to do with the recent increase in half-eaten human and dog carcasses turning up in the park, so if the Mayor is interested in getting to the bottom of this other municipal matter that has caused public outcry, then he might look to the squirrels for possible answers.

ISSUE 2: The Mayor’s solution to the supposed squirrel/trash problem is to introduce a race of super-squirrels into the park that will decimate the current squirrel population. Foreseeing the possibility that these new super-squirrels might inhabit the treetop homes of the old squirrel population, the Mayor says that he has “found scientists who will implant exploding pellets into the hearts of the super-squirrels prior to them being released into the park, and which are set to go off exactly seventy-two hours after their release, thus avoiding any future population problems.”

Again, the Mayor’s solution is short-sighted. If he’d done even the simplest research he’d know that this exact same strategy was used in Ann Arbor, Michigan last year and with disastrous results. First, there is the flawed assumption that the much-larger super-squirrels can easily dominate and kill off the wolf squirrel population, which we now know is not the case. Second, the Ann Arbor Incident also tells us that super-squirrels, while not particularly violent, are extremely amorous creatures, and that they share common mating patterns with wolf squirrels. The likely result would be a large, ultra-violent and indestructible new race of Super-Wolf Squirrels similar to the ones in Ann Arbor—with opposable thumbs and the ability to communicate using E.S.P. For those too busy to pick up a newspaper, researchers believe super-wolf squirrels were behind the disappearance of the entire human population of Rockport, Maine last April (The missing residents were later replaced by period actors), as well as the nefarious Guns-for-Nuts program that ran on the streets of Detroit (only weeks after the Ann Arbor Incident...coincidence?) by the until-then-unheard-of gang, The Tree Top Killahs. This was a criminal program that authorities at first believed to be a push by gang members to get guns into the hands of crazy people, but upon further examination realized that the word “nuts” was being used literally. The evidence is ominous. As in Ann Arbor, the solution to the trash problem would be replaced by an epic-battle-between-human-and-squirrel problem.

ISSUE 3: The Mayor discounted any suggestions that a monkey with lasers for eyes might be a better option. Your newspaper ran an editorial the following day defending his position on laser-eyed monkeys. I simply ask: Why would the Mayor reject out-of-hand a possible solution to trash in the park without giving it serious consideration? When asked why a monkey with lasers for eyes was not a possibility, the mayor would only say that he feared the monkey would throw feces at picnicing park-goers and that he especially feared for the children. If this were the case, wouldn’t he rather endure the possible throwing of feces instead of the continued reduction in the town population at the claws of super-wolf squirrels?

Yes, we all know that a monkey with lasers for eyes has its risks, including the possible destruction of the grandstand near the picnic area and the potential for National Guard intervention if the monkey runs astray. But a well-trained monkey—such as a capuchin or even a macaque—would exact a swift and efficient destruction of the squirrels, as well as add a bit of whimsy to the park atmosphere.

ISSUE 4: No effort has been made to discover the true cause of the trash in the park. While I strongly agree that the wolf squirrel population must be controlled, I do differ with the Mayor on both the means and the reasoning behind the elimination of their population in our town. I feel strongly that a monkey with lasers for eyes is the best solution. But I also believe the wolf squirrels are not the cause of the trash problem, but may be the cause of the dead-bodies-in-the-park problem. So this leaves one question: what is the cause of the trash in the park?

I believe the main cause may be the Mayor’s insistence back in 2004 that the new transfer station be located within the grounds of Van Binten Park. While the Mayor may be able to easily place the blame on the squirrels for the increase in used paper products, bottles, cans, and rotting food strewn about, he has said little of the obvious presence of discarded appliances and car tires, as well as the frequency of burn piles throughout park grounds. But to admit that a policy he enacted three years ago might have caused the downfall in the community’s green space seems to be just too politically risky for the mayor. Instead, he blames the flesh-eating wolf squirrels, and then refuses the use of a genetically-altered monkey weapon as a solution.

It is clear to me, and to many others in the community, that the Mayor doesn’t want to solve the trash problem in the park, but is actually encouraging inter-species warfare to cover up his own flawed greenspace policy. And once the Great War between squirrels and humans has begun, it is only then that he’ll bring in the laser-eyed capuchin to save the day (and his political career)—but by then it may be too late.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My New Yorker Rejection Letters

Dear Mr. Corey:

Thank you for your recent submission to The New Yorker, although I regret to inform you that we’ve chosen to pass on your article at this time.

Dear Mr. Corey:

Thank you once again for your recent submission to The New Yorker, although, as I stated in my previous correspondence to you, we’ve chosen to pass on your article. Please take the time to re-read the guidelines that were sent to you. Best of Luck.

Dear Mr. Corey:

I apologize for not being clearer in my previous note to you. Your writing does not rise to the level of our editorial standards, and I suggest you look elsewhere in you effort to get it published. Also, The New Yorker does not currently publish a “People I Hate” column, nor will we at any time in the foreseeable future. I suspect that you’ve mistaken us for another magazine, and you should re-check your information.

Dear Mr. Corey:

Re-submitting the same article with a new “catchy” title does not constitute a re-write, nor does inserting more commas to—as you put it—“create more tension.” Also, in regards to your query and submission for the “Talk of the Town” section, I don’t see how a minute-by-minute description of a recent dinner with your mom cuts the mustard. “Talk of the Town” contains vignettes about celebrities, politics and local scenes, not sad tales of a thrice-divorced security guard and a shriveled, half-mad matriarch shut-in named Flo. Admittedly, I did find the moment when you rifled through her pocketbook both disturbing and strangely riveting, but I don’t think our readership would relate to your current lifestyle. Please do not send any further submissions.

Dear Mr. Corey:

We have already passed on this article multiple times, so please do not submit it again. I disagree with your assessment that this piece would be “way perfect” for our “Shouts & Murmurs” column. Your submission is nothing but a detailed description of an elderly woman trying to eat oatmeal with a butter knife. While you say you giggled uncontrollably while you were writing the article, I find nothing funny—no matter what the context. Please do not write again.

Dear Mr. Corey:

I’m a busy, busy man. But in answer to your question: Yes, I think it would disturb any editor to start receiving submissions at his home address. But I don’t find that half as unsettling as your uncanny description of the contents of my medicine cabinet in your latest submission “I Know Where You Live.” Please do not try to reach me at home again, as I will be out of town indefinitely.

Dear Mr. Corey:

I have asked my assistant to forward all calls from you directly to our legal department. Also, your most recent so-called query letter has been turned over to an FBI profiler for review. My legal counsel has advised me that I have no recourse since you didn’t threaten me directly. Still he believes we may be able to take legal action on behalf of the corporation, and suggests that The New Yorker itself may be able to obtain a restraining order against you. Surely, Mr. Corey, you wouldn’t want to be ensnared in such precedent-setting litigation. My suggestion to you at this time is to cease and desist. Also, I’m sorry to say that your most recent submission, “Mother’s Closet”—although well structured and researched—is not up to our high standards.

Dear Mr. Corey:

Congratulations! After careful consideration by our editorial board, your photo essay “I have your dog!” has been chosen for publication in the July issue of The New Yorker. I will be contacting you in the near future to discuss payment, as well as to negotiate the release of my pet boxer Mr. Tuggles. Please be gentle with him, as he is old and has intestinal troubles. Judging by the photos you sent, he does look remarkably like your mother. In retrospect, your descriptions of her were uncanny. Does her left eye look in that direction naturally? I look forward to receiving future submissions.