Saturday, July 16, 2011

Venting Irritation Time

So...cover letters are a stupid concept.  A really, really, stupid concept.  A concept so unbelievably stupid that I can't fathom why it still exists in the modern day standard process of seeking employment.  They accomplish nothing beyond wasting everyone's time.  They waste the time of the candidate by having to reiterate what's already on their resume (but in an "oh so nice" letter-form) and they waste the employer's time by giving them more to read.  And let's face it, no employers read them the whole way through, if at all.  They usually have dozens-to-hundreds of applications to go through meaning reading anymore than a paragraph worth of text per person is so impractical that it just never happens.
And then there's jobs that require demo reels, like, say, anything in animation (or voice acting for that matter).  The demo reel is the most important piece without a doubt, with resume coming in 2nd (maybe 3rd depending on unique cases) and, of course, the cover letter is dead last.  Yet it's still expected.  Why?  It doesn't serve any useful purpose!
Perhaps worst of all is that the cover letter, as indicated by the name, is supposed to go on top of your resume.  The more I think about this, the closer I get to an aneurysm.  Isn't it already wasting enough time just expecting to be read?  Now it has to obscure the stuff that's actually important?
Everything the employer could possibly want or need to know about any given candidate is on their resume and, possibly, their demo reel.

Of course, there are "justifications" of the concept.  Stuff like saying it shows you went through the trouble of writing it out, it shows you care about getting the job, shows off you're willing to commit yourself to doing that extra bit of work, etc. etc.
A cover letter doesn't confirm any of that.  The very fact that the candidate is already taking time out of their day to go around, apply, make themselves look as presentable and professional as possible while, potentially, lugging around a portfolio, already shows those qualities more than well enough.
Even if a cover letter did exude any of those qualities, it would still be useless when it came to examining the individual.  Cover letters have this horrible, oxymoronic* redundancy of being both self-promoting and modest.  Because of that, they end up being pretty much the exact same thing for every individual, no matter how you dress it up.  And, of course, the individuals themselves might be outright lying on their cover letters.
If anything, a lack of a cover letter should show that you're conscious enough of others' responsibilities to a point that you don't intentionally waste their time.

And why am I moaning about this now?  After all, I have a job I enjoy already.  I am looking for an additional part time job as well for the sake of some extra cash...but that doesn't matter.  Whether or not I'm employed, whether or not you're employed, doesn't change the fact that cover letters are stupid.
Maybe it's the extremely mundane life I've been living for the last 4 weeks, maybe it's the fact that I watched a bunch of George Carlin's routines yesterday, or maybe it's just my low tolerance for stupidity that made me go off on this rant.  In any case, I think it needed to be said.
In fact, it's already been said, time and time again.  Google "cover letters are stupid" and take note of how many results there are, many with very well thought-out, rational reasons.  I'm now just one more guy in that myriad of irritated individuals.

Long story short:  Cover letters are an irredeemably stupid, colossal waste of everyone's time.

*According to Firefox's spellcheck, 'oxymoronic' is not a word.  The American Heritage Dictionary begs to differ, so I'm going with it.

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