We all have to do it at some point, whether its a CV, a covering letter, an application of some sort for something we inevitably want or wouldn’t trouble ourselves to bother to write something in the first place… I’m talking about putting yourself onto paper.
No not literally smearing yourself onto a page, or printing a picture of yourself, but writing about yourself in a way that is to showcase your many good talents, talk yourself up and not come across as a pretentious and arrogant arse. Now, I’m not sure if its an English thing or a people thing and I guess that’s my reason for writing about it in the first place but I always find it an odd thing thing to do.
Its not the sort of thing we ever do in real life, as modest individuals (or most of us are) however high are opinion of ourselves we don’t want to come across as arses, we play down our attributes, publicly ridicule our faults and draw attention through humour or other means to our many misfortunes and failings. So when suddenly we have to show ourselves in the best light possible and pitch ourselves against the other hundreds of nameless pieces of paper and names, it seems harder than you would think.
That’s the first point. We are too busy, too quick as I have perpetually repeated, to pick up on our bad points, for many of us when asked to think about what attributes we have that make us employable, eligible, ‘want-able’, suddenly its not so easy. We say we are organised; and stare around at the state of our kitchens or bedrooms with disgust, we say we’re good in teams; remembering how we hated and despised that person you worked with before, wishing to make their lives a living hell but acting with professionalism – so we can say we’re professionally, except that time we chose to skive off work because we were hung over from the night before’s antics or the childish bantar the boss caught us batting back between colleagues.
Its not that we don’t have good qualities, and its not that we don’t know precisely what it is the employer reads on a bit of a paper, but there in lies problem number two. We all know the things employers want and so how do you stand out against Joe Bloggs and Little Miss Perfect? With humour? With Something different, with enthusiasm? How do you not sound as though your sucking arse, how do you not sound as though you don’t really care and take the opportunity as a bit of a joke… how do you sound sincere and represent the person, the individual you are behind the words on the page?
With tone. Its all in the tone. When I write, I am sure you can hear my tone, the intonation I use in my own speech, my turns of phrase, my personality, humour or irony coming across. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know me personally, its there, something comes across and you can hear ‘me’ on the page. Its what we want to put across, its precisely that, that voice that we need to show and exploit, without showcasing any of the negative aspects of our personality.
We are but a name on a page, and words written like everyone else. We are all the same when it comes down to it, whether its a CV or a covering letter, its just the same bullshit laid on thick in a desperate hope taht they take a chance and get to meet you at that dreaded interview.
Interviews never bother me much, I don’t get nervous because I think, one I got here so they must have liked something and two, its time to showcase me, the real me, not the two sided a four sheet of condensed me, but me, the intellectual, punctual, loquacious me, the employee me, the girl with ambition me, the one who walks in and says with a look, you know what you want and I’m going to be it (without an air of arrogance).
But the paper. Oh, the paper. I like writing, I enjoy writing as much as anyone else who ever dreamt as a kid of being an author, a journalist, or running a magazine or a blog, of having a career where vocabulary and books were my life… but even I don’t like writing about me. Its not that I dont, or I cant write it well, its just, well, it doesn’t seem very me. I don’t big myself up, I don’t like those who boast, who forcefully present themselves and the opinion your supposed to have of them when you meet them… But I always think, its words.
Words are easy, sentences are easy. Its not hard to write something well with intelligence and authority, after all, whatever the purpose of your prose, its a basic GCSE level skill, writing to persuade. That is all we are doing after all, writing to persuade that person reading ‘us’, that we are what they want and to give us a chance.
This all comes up because at present I’m writing my teaching application. I’m trying to explain and express why I, me, little Carla Danielle, should be given one of the eight places available in the up and coming year to train as an English and Drama teacher, that I am the the one they want, against the 300 other applicants expected, by last years stats, to apply.
There is in this situation, no other way I can approach this but with, enthusiasm. Luckily for me I want this, really want this and teaching for me, like my TEFL teaching, is my passion, my life, my vocation even more than it is my chosen career. I cant imagine anything more rewarding or anything more I’d want to do, than to inspire youngsters as my teacher inspired my to get excited about learning. Its all very clichéd and slightly, ‘I’m going to throw up in my mouth’ but unfortunately it is all perfectly true. So writing this? Its a big deal, for me its make or break the next year and possible career that I will fall into.
But its not THAT big a deal, because I know that my tone, that voice we were just talking about, will come across, with sincerity, with passion and with wanton desire to get a place and be seen because, well that’s how I feel. Writing about yourself is only ever difficult if you a) don’t believe a word you are writing, b) have no interest in the job you are applying for and therefore are faking your enthusiasm and c) if secretly, you think you don’t deserve it in the first place.
Guess what? It’ll come across, just as when you speak to your friend and say your fine, they know you’re bullshitting by that unconscious look you give them from behind your eyes, or the slightest waver in your tone, why people know your lying, by you somehow giving away that actually you are bullshitting through your teeth. We communicate in more ways than through speech, through words, through body language, or through looks, it comes from somewhere inside through those actions.
So I guess at the end of this long rant and insight into the workings of my opinion on such topics, I guess all I have to say, as usual is, believe in yourself, strive for greatness sand be determined to prove to everyone, to that person, as you should all the time in everyday life – that you are worthy, you are worth the risk, you are deserving and damn you are too good for it anyway…