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  • Writer's pictureLammergeier Staff

Dear Hiring Manager | Brittany Jones

Updated: Jul 29, 2023



Dear Hiring Manager,

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to apply for the Community Partnerships Manager position at your company. As a young professional passionate about creating more equitable, inclusive communities, I believe I am a strong candidate, and I am confident that, if you hire me, I will consistently exceed your expectations––whether I am recognized for this work or not.

My prior work with nonprofits––specifically with failing/underfunded nonprofits––have prepared me to effectively build strong relationships with key stakeholders and then convincingly cope with the fallout when those relationships inevitably end. While always devastating to some degree, I have consequently become increasingly resilient; in the face of adversity or challenge, I am quick to stand up and volunteer solutions––unless of course, as part of the solution, I am asked to stand down and leave (which I’ll do quietly, because I know at the end of the day it’s for the sake of those kids and communities we serve).

My work experiences, moreover, are varied and extensive. I’m 24––two years out of college––but already I’m searching for my fourth full-time job; I’ve let my resume reach its second page; I’ve filed tax returns in three states (including my most recent residence: my parents’ dining room); and I’ve been laid off twice. I’ve learned how to move in and out of makeshift spaces, how to come and go and pack quickly (or not at all) and move on. Never knowing how much time I’ll have before the end, I’ve become an adept new hire, rapidly adjusting to new roles and responsibilities while simultaneously evaluating how I might ultimately distill these months into bullet points for LinkedIn.

Should you select me for this position, you will soon discover that I am laid-back (when it comes to work-place politics, not my work itself), “chill,” and just about as submissive as you would expect from a young woman in an entry-level position. I try not to expect more than I’m given and, at the very least, do not ask for more than I’m given. Instead, I give more than I am asked for. I am, in other words, a model employee (a.k.a., a sucker).

Thank you for reviewing my resume and considering me for this position. I did not want to leave my other job, but I was given no choice, and if I have to go somewhere from there I may as well go here. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely,

***

Everyone had heard the rumor that, if they chose to let you go, you’d come into work to find your belongings buried under the office’s floorboards, stuffed into holes crudely dug between the steel beams holding up the building.

If you were fired, you’d come into work and be unable to find your belongings anywhere. We suspected the closet that Management kept locked near their glass offices in the back: a treasure trove of framed photographs, hidden snacks and bags of tea, stacks of business cards (all useless now), a couple dollars in cash, sports-themed mouse pads, notebooks with to-do lists that never got done, “Welcome” signs that were never taken down––at l(e)ast, never until the end.

In some ways, this approach was easier for everyone; you never have to have that conversation. They don’t have to see you cry. You don’t have to see the look in their eyes: pity, disgust, and something else I doubt I’ll be able to name unless (until) I try it for myself––taking away someone’s job.

***

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am pleased to apply for the Family Services Coordinator position. I grew up in America in a two-parent white household in the suburbs; I consequently recognize the value of family. I recognize the ways in which families––or the idea of family––hold not just children and their parents together, but this society together: groupings that must fend for themselves and remain responsible for themselves (with the generous offerings of nonprofits such as yourself) or lose their home, lose respect, lose their lives.

Because if families are responsible for themselves, then no one else has to be: the great American (Capitalist) dream. I would be thrilled to support the work you do empowering our community’s families to not need the services they’re rarely provided anyways.

I was immediately drawn to your company’s values and culture which, as you write on your website, includes embodying the work you do with families in the community by “celebrating and encouraging our teammates like family.” My prior job experiences included work with employers I considered “like family,” and I am consequently comfortable navigating and contributing to this kind of organizational environment.

Or, to be (familiarly) honest, I was comfortable, until my employers came for what was theirs and took everything. Until they came and ignored entirely the ways in which this job––this thing––had grown to fit around my skin, grasp my hair, wrap its little hands within my hands. They were baby hands that grasped my own––I understood that––but they’d been so comforting. And I had worked so hard to convince those hands to take hold.

When you laid off a third of your employees last year (I did my research), did the staff still feel like family? How easy, after you let them go, was it for them (or for yourself: those left standing) to let go, move on?

While I consider myself a team player, I’ve decided I’m no longer interested in making friends with anyone with whom I work. I’ll come to expect things of my colleagues that they won’t ultimately be able to give, and I’ll be disappointed when you eventually lay me off (I don’t expect otherwise). Then, the silence will set in: so few texts or emails, fewer phone calls; just the left over, ringing quiet that always settled like dust when the lunch break was over or the Zoom meeting closed. Like the food left in the fridge when the virus broke, the silence collects bugs. But instead of left-over food I’m left standing over my phone waiting for it to buzz (it doesn’t).

Yes, I’m bitter. But you can rest assured: I’ll forget. I’ll grow complaisant. I’ll let myself get drawn into conversations, into the community, into this “family” you’ve created. I’ll build relationships and I will come to care, deeply, for those with whom I work. Those for whom I work.

I am consequently ready to bring my skills and experiences to your [family? company?], whereby I might have the chance to replace––and perhaps exceed, if I do my job right––one of your laid-off [team members? relatives?]. Thank you for considering my application.

Sincerely,

***

I’d rather this approach, I suppose, than the process my prior company instituted: there, the whole office came to you. It was pre-arranged, so every staff member but you (and whoever else was being told to leave) knew the time and date. They came to you where you were––usually your desk––and you had to stand and they circled you, and the HR representative would read the Separation Agreement that the company had drafted which, unless you wanted to leave without a single offering of goodwill, you had no choice but to sign. The other employees circling you made it easier: they chanted, a soft whispering underneath the voice of the HR rep: “sign it sign it sign it sign it sign it sign.”

When the Separation Agreement was signed, the staff brought out their offerings: typically left-over lunches from the refrigerator, or some extra company swag, perhaps pens and folders with the company’s name and logo. Once I had seen a stuffed animal (no one knew to whom it belonged––probably to someone else who had left or been told to leave long ago) given out. Each remaining employee had to find something to give. It could be something of theirs, or it could be something that belonged to no one. And then you took your severance pay and left.

***

Dear Hireme Manager,

To be frank, I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about applying for the Analyst, Project Management position at your organization, but with the job market where it is and the threat of a second total shut-down appearing increasingly likely, I thought I should go for it. I’m probably not even qualified, but I am a young woman––when have I ever felt qualified for the jobs to which I’ve sent my resume and cover letter, or even the jobs for which I’ve been hired?

The job description states that this role will “play an essential role on the Project Management Team.” As someone who has previously been let go for playing a “non-essential” role on my team, I would welcome the opportunity to again become essential, valued, needed. Of course, my prior job description had similarly labeled my role “essential”––but that must remain besides the point.

Additionally, I appreciate that, while this role is apparently “essential,” it is not so essential that I am required to put my health at risk to complete it. Through my prior job experiences, I have found that I thrive in roles that we at least pretend are not easily replaceable, and that consequently toggle that line (we all keep falling over it!) between (non)(essential) / (non)(existent).

You will find that I bring an inventive, creative perspective to your team. Even when I am sitting at home, I rarely stop thinking up new scenarios for my work: I imagine people upset; I imagine people thrilled. I imagine the restructuring and I imagine people needing me and I imagine people moving on with their work, with their lives, wondering what I ever did if my absence feels so natural now, so quickly. I am confident that this kind of thinking––which fuses stark realism with a powerful imagination––will allow me to contribute thoughtfully to new initiatives in your Project Management team.

I appreciate (somewhat desperately) your time and consideration. I look forward to awaiting your (non)(essential) / (non)(existent) reply.

Sincerely,

***

When it was my turn in the circle’s center, I ended up with a mug from the back of a cabinet; some promotional flyers; a cord that had been severed long ago from whatever computer or equipment to which it belonged; an unused, empty briefcase; a rapidly defrosting Trader Joe’s meal; a pack of fruit snacks.

There was always a lot of pressure––when the office came for you––not to cry. Tears just made everything more uncomfortable for everyone. People still did cry, of course; I almost cried. But everyone standing around you looks at you with a little less pity, a little more disgust, when you cry. Until it’s your job they come for, “it’s just a job.” You can find (perhaps, eventually) another.

***

Dear Hiring Manager*

I am _____________________ (adjective) to have the opportunity to apply for the position of _____________________ (job title) at _____________________ (company name). As someone who is highly _____________________ (adjective) and passionate about _____________________ (noun), I believe I would be a highly _____________________ (adjective) candidate for this role.

As the _____________________ (job title) at _____________________ (company name), I maintained and organized _____________________ (noun). I regularly used _____________________ (noun) to effectively track and monitor _____________________ (noun), and I am confident that the skills I developed here will translate naturally to working on your _____________________ (plural noun). Having worked on many fast-paced _____________________ (plural noun), I recognize the importance of remaining _____________________ (adjective) under pressure.

Additionally, I was the primary individual responsible for mediating _____________________ (noun) and _____________________ (verb with object) my supervisor’s _____________________ (noun). I have consequently become a skilled team-player, and am quick to adapt to my colleagues’ _____________________ (plural noun). Whether they needed me to _____________________ (task) or _____________________ (task), I responded _____________________ (adverb) and had no problem achieving success.

Thank you very much for your _____________________ (noun). I believe that this position will allow me to use my well-practiced _____________________ (plural noun) and add _____________________ (noun) to your company.

Sincerely,

_____________________ (name)

*This is my Mad Libs! version Cover Letter. You are encouraged to fill in the blanks with the words you feel would be most opportune. However, you are also welcome to just play with a colleague. I don’t actually want this job and I imagined you may feel as heartbroken reading cover letters as I feel writing them, and that you might consequently appreciate a light-hearted break amidst the terrifying work of reading about and then rejecting individuals’ hopes and dreams.

***

I typically imagine little claws. So slowly, almost softly, they dig themselves into our skin. And they can leisurely ease themselves out, or they can be extracted with relief, or they can be ripped out: so the claws release their grip––they let you go––but they take pieces of your skin and leave behind blood.

***

Dear CAPITALISM,

I am applying for the position of Executive Assistant with your company, Capitalist Ideology. Having worked with numerous nonprofits, I am already familiar with many of the methods through which one can thwart and cool initiatives for radical change. So long as you pay me more than my previous employers (which seems highly likely), I would be willing to contribute these experiences and skills to your organization’s work.

You will soon discover that I am a quick learner. While at first confused as to how you might have birthed such an unproductive, unprofitable task as writing cover letters, I soon grasped its necessity; so much more than helping people leave their dead-end jobs, find something new, develop further skills, or advance in their career, cover letters are a way to keep people where they are, stuck in a job, thankful for a title, fearful of the anonymity and mindlessness of joblessness and cover letters.

During this time of extreme unease and distress, I am ideally positioned to support your initiatives for greater self-preservation and profit. As an upper middle-class white individual who does not need to fear for her financial stability, I can speak to the ways in which unemployment benefits have insidiously prompted me to indulge in thoughts of not returning to work––because why should I return to work when I can live off a mix of checks from the Government and checks from my Parents?

Thankfully, I have also experienced the desperate instability (like vertigo, like letting go) of my identity, and consequently continue to seek employment. I must have, after all, some title by which to introduce myself at parties. I must have something solid and real with which to describe myself and know myself. And there is nothing more apparently (apparently!) solid than a job title.

This is not to say, however, that I deny the primacy of the system above the self; the organization charts, of which I am at the bottom, are clear. In my day-to-day work, I am consequently committed to putting the health of the company in which I work/live over the health of the body in which I live/work; the latter, after all, cannot survive without the system, from which it receives funding for food and housing and environmentally sustainable cleaning products (all the essentials, plus just a little of the non/essential). Perhaps I give up sleep and sanity along the way, but I understand the necessity of the trade, as well as my place in it. I am, after all, (sometimes to my own dismay) a model employee.


I don’t know if I can stomach a thank you, but then I’ve thrown around so many other thank you’s and they’ve all been rather rancid. But if I’ve learned anything recently, I’ve learned that the words we share with those from whom we want something go stale quickly, meaning little.

So thank you for your consideration. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this role with you further. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely,

***

I wonder if this is one of the virus’s blessings or one of the virus’s curses: even more easily, we fall deep into anonymity. The lay offs can take place over phone calls; faces can be cut out entirely. No one has to hear us heaving, and no one has to see us leave. The office can be remembered as it was when it was still lived-in and secure (like my job), rather than now, when it has been shuttered and meticulously cleaned(-out): like a foreclosed home. For the sake of our “safety,” HR can go through our cubicles and ship us the (be)longings we had left behind and weren’t allowed to look through ourselves. And all we have to do is stay home and pray––dear God, please––that we didn’t enter quarantine with something damning in our desk drawers.


Where is the closure, the door closing behind us one final time? How do we mark the change when we are still just here—as we have been for what could be two weeks or four months or three years—but also not here, suddenly expelled from a space within which we had been living but that does not, in the physical world at least, exist? There is nothing from which to let go.

I wonder in what virtual caverns I can find all the rejected cover letters: surely some no man’s land kept deep in our computers, nestled right beneath our jobs, slowly putrefying.


***


Dear Applicant,


Thank you for your interest in the Executive Assistant position at Capitalist Ideology. We received over 40 million applications for this position and, we’ll admit, yours definitely wasn’t the most impressive. We appreciated the excitement, but the desperation seemed somewhat petty. We certainly wouldn’t have minded a greater display of gratitude. Have you forgotten, after all, that we’ve given you everything? Have you forgotten not only the toys, the electronics, the trips, the car––but also the pride (at least at times); the feeling of worth (growing as your salaries have grown); the deep sense of security (so soft, clean, white, and carefully constructed across all of who you are and what you have––do we need to name both)?


Have you forgotten with what ease we could give even more; or how quickly (a snap of the fingers, a five minute phone call—the same speed with which you were last laid off), we could have everything taken away?


That being said, we don’t want to keep you on unemployment benefits for long; it’s draining our coffers (we’re starting to see a small dent). Consequently, you, along with the 40 million plus other applicants, have been selected to move to the next stage of the hiring process. (Congrats.)


In this stage, you are invited to complete a series of hiring tasks. These tasks include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:


  1. Waiting: for unemployment benefits, for a response to one of your job applications, for a vaccine, for 2021. While you’re waiting, we’ll test your resilience (and your bank account) to see how well you respond to challenges: specifically, the challenge of regulating feelings of utter despair and shame. If you don’t currently find yourself feeling utter despair and shame, you’re doing something wrong; please continue writing cover letters until the despair and shame starts setting in. Then, you may return to the remaining hiring tasks below.

  2. Testing negative for COVID. (Note that our healthcare provider isn’t prepared to cover the cost of COVID-related health issues, or any other health issues.)

  3. Mediating your desire for a job with your guilt for beating out the other applicants––who are, just like you imagine they may be, not only more worthy but probably more qualified than you are anyways.



Once you have completed the four tasks above, we will reach out with next steps. This is an unmonitored email address; please don’t reply with questions. Actually, don’t question in general. Your questions will go unanswered. You will just keep wondering, and you will find no reply or resolution or response.


Thank you again for your interest in Capitalist Ideology’s mission to make money at any cost (“cost” referring of course to actual human lives, not cash and capital). We look forward to prof(iting of)fering you a job.


Sincerely,


CAPITALISM

Chief Executive Arbiter, Hopes & Dreams (& Just About Everything Else)

Capitalist Ideology

All Around You





Brittany is an emerging writer currently working towards her Masters in Teaching at University of Virginia. She writes nonfiction and fiction.

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