When I graduated from college in the early 1990s, the country was in a mild recession. I moved to Minneapolis without a job and mooched off some friends for a couple of weeks while I looked. I had a BA in Russian language and some vague newspaper experience, which didn't get me much of anywhere I wanted to go, which was into journalism.
One of the friends, Louise (not her real name -- well, not her real FIRST name), was also looking for some kind of editorial or writing job. We spent a lot of time sending out cover letters and resumes to pretty much every publication in the Upper Midwest. We bought the solemnly colored resume paper with appropriately mature weight. We carefully padded our resumes, thinking we were the only ones who knew that "oversaw a staff of 15" really meant "wondering where to get enough money to buy the beer for the next party for 15" and "coached beginning and advanced writers" meant "yelled at the freshman who thought a deadline meant 'when I feel like it.'"
There were few jobs out there, and the ones that were there required some experience. So we sent a lot of cold letters out there, like ill-prepared Arctic explorers, never to be heard from again. The resume books all said to "customize" your letters, to "craft" your resume to fit the publication. After awhile, that just felt silly.
I think it was Louise who came up with the magic phrase. It was a sentence that said, "Hey, I can't be bothered to even look at a copy of your magazine, but I'm hoping maybe to get lucky anyway." It said, "You and I both know that this is going nowhere, but maybe you'll take pity on me." It said, "I am lying through my damn teeth, but I can do it with correct grammar, and I show up promptly at 7:30 a.m."
After slathering it on about how much we loved journalism and how it was our calling and how we worshipped at the altar of the serial comma (or not, depending on the publication), we would put this sentence:
"My love of journalism is matched only by my love of __________."
For BEEF Magazine? Fill in the blank with "beef." For Sportsman's Digest? Outdoor issues. Hog Market Today? Swine. You get the idea.
No wonder we didn't get anywhere with them. The thing is, I've been feeling like I've been sending a lot of letters like that out lately. With similar results.
Edited, several hours later, to add: The whole point of this entry is that I will soon be applying for a position that combines my love of journalism with my love of party politics, in a way I could only dream of before. So visualize me getting a job, m'kay?