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An Open Cover Letter 

Things I’ve learned since leaving my job and taking the summer to explore.

Tracey Carl
Aug 25, 2013 · 3 min read

Dear [fill in employer name here],

Conventional wisdom would say that a cover letter should start by focusing on the positives. No offense to conventional wisdom, but I think I have a better way to tell you my story. It begins when I allowed myself to say the word, “no.”

I left behind the role of Director of Production at an ad agency because I was looking to pivot my career trajectory. I wanted to excel less at operational excellence and more at, well, let’s call it, inspirational excellence. I took the summer to learn how to get there.

Choosing to leave behind a role was the first big “no” I had allowed myself. My first big negative. But negatives should always be followed by affirmatives. It keeps the world balanced. So for that one “no,” here are six affirmations that I have learned this summer.**

Affirmations:

1. If you can make people think while they are laughing, you can rule the world.

  • I realized I simply cannot tell a story or lead a project without making those around me laugh. And that’s a strength I didn’t recognize. Other people call it “engagement.” I’m in the process of patenting the term “laugh leadership.”
  • I think it may be serious business.

2. You must state your decision loudly and often.

  • Reinforcement of going after what you want is a game of stamina.
  • I train by shouting what I want into a mirror, regularly. So far, it seems to agree with me.

3. Writing should be a regular exercise. Also — exercise should be a regular exercise.

  • Did you know you can record voice memo’s on your smartphone? I find my best ideas come when I’m outside, in nature. With a smartphone.
  • Did you know there is a woman who says, “Good-morning!” to every person she sees on my hiking trail every day? Her smile is so big, you can’t help but smile back, and wish her the same.
  • I want to know about the first time she decided she’d wish, “good-morning” to strangers. I’m going to ask her this question by Sept 30th.

4. You can be what you want to be (an edited list of things I’ve done this summer).

5. My friends and colleagues are incredible people.

  • I can’t thank them enough for continually suggesting me for jobs. Even more so for being understanding and supportive when I said I just wanted to “take a beat” before jumping back into something.

6. The internet contains some amazing, rarely traversed corners.

  • I commit myself to seeking them out each day. It’s overwhelming. Enlightening. Enraging. Inspiring.

In short, I have the experience and resourcefulness to meet challenges and drive projects forward. But I’m learning I needed to go beyond that to feel satisfied. I needed a refresher. I thought I needed grad school. I think I just needed summer school.

All of this is the long way of saying, I’d love the chance to meet you in-person. Although there may seem like there is a gap between fulltime employment and now, it’s actually some of the best experience I could have gotten for you as an employee. I’m not sure if you’re still looking for a [fill in the blank job title] but regardless, I would love the chance to just say hello.

Hope we can connect!

All the best,

Tracey

**Side bar: I’ve run enough production budgets to know that 1 < 6, unless you are weighing negatives against positives. Then the math gets fuzzy.

    Tracey Carl

    Written by

    Strategist and Process Maker. Penchant for DIYing / wordsmithing / pun-running / GIF referencing. www.traceycarl.com

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