Dear Potential Employer
I would very much like to be considered for the position you have announced on random website dot com. As a public relations professional with over a dozen years of diverse experience spanning broadcast journalism to marketing to selling an Army at war, I feel I would be an excellent candidate for your position. However, I am acutely aware of the numerous dings on my resume your resume reading algorithm will uncover, so in this letter I would much prefer to address those, rather than explain to you how utterly awesome I am.
I am a disabled veteran. This is the first item your computer Human Resources program will discover. I am disabled, and you are not allowed to ask why and therefore the computer will make assumptions. I have sacrificed time and effort in the service of our nation – but I am not a gun totting, pro-life republican.
While you are not allowed to ask my political views, the way the programming of your reading software is designed; it will decide that I am exactly that. I am a disabled veteran, but as discussed I have years of experience both within and outside the military and therefore do not want to simply be placed in the back room stocking boxes, unseen. I realize that this is what your program is designed to do – hire veterans in order to make a quota – but I am not a number to fit into your mold, I am excellent at what I do.
I have injured myself in the military – and I have gotten the story, or the press release, or the blog posting. I have been in front of the camera and behind – I have reported the story and been the story. I have experienced trauma, and made decisions to get better. This makes me uniquely qualified in that I am tenacious, smart and driven to present the organization at hand in a light conducive to connecting with their stakeholders. Even when they do not deserve such action. I have ridden on the barrel of a Tank gun, I have shot video outside a flying helicopter.
I have played “my heart will go on” more times than was warranted during a morning drive time. I played ‘my way” when Frank Sinatra died, and happily signed the counseling statement because “My Way” is no longer considered “pop”. I learned to take photos when I was a videographer – I set up coverage of fire fighting duty as a junior enlisted public affairs specialist. On September 11th, I worked 18 hour shifts for 6 weeks because no one else had bothered to get the clearance necessary to work in the Emergency Operations Center. I have dressed like a whore to get soldiers to give up secrets of operations to me – so that they learned to not give information to the enemy as we braced ourselves for war. I have won every award I was put in for – though I never put myself in for awards in broadcasting and journalism.
Your computer generated HR will not find this out, and my resume will be placed aside, kept on file or simply removed from all consideration because I know my abilities and do not have to exaggerate them in order to write them down.
I am a woman of child-bearing age, married to a soldier. This fact is perhaps one of the most detrimental to my quest for a position I can gain. Let me be clear: I will have no more children, and my husband will no longer leave this area. Should he have to in fact do a tour somewhere else because of the ever-changing nature of military service, I will remain behind, happily working at your organization. He has less than two years left in service – he will not reenlist, and we will have no more children. I realize this is hard to believe as I am 37 years old, but I have made certain that I will have no more children. I did this when it seemed that the federal government was going to try and take that right and decision away from me – out of fear for my life. I chose to be singed in order to not become ill from certain medical conditions given to me one person in the military and while the doctor was in there I asked him to cut the tubes so that nothing could accidentally happen. I made these decisions on my own – without regret. These were my choices to make – and it was my legal right as a US citizen to make the choices I have made.
This is none of your business – but your computer program and the intern potentially reading my file will discard my resume without knowledge of where I am as a woman.
I have fought for what I believe in – fighting for my special needs child to get the education he deserved. I have done this with tact, knowing the dilemma his teachers face. He is without diagnosis, but does not fit a mold for a child desired under the no child left behind act. I have cried and screamed, I have written and been silenced, I have worked and fought for him as is expected of a mother. I have changed his diet and been pushed into medication by the school district. I have signed IEP’s and 504 plans, and I have spoken to the Department of Education in Washington DC concerning the educational development of my child. I have moved across the country – leaving my soldier husband behind in order to provide him with an education he needed. I left the prison schools of Texas to raise him with inquiry and desire to be part of the world – even as I wished to close myself away from society.
Your program cannot know about what I have done outside the 1 to 2-page resume your computer allows. It cannot decide if I am a person outside the scope of keywords you choose – without use of interchangeable words within the English language.
A Public Relations Specialist is so much more than the keywords your programming choses. Someone who can market using social media because that is the keyword they chose on their resume can also market using social platforms, and social networking. A Public Affairs Specialist can create blogs, can determine how to communicate cross-generationally and cross-culturally. Someone who has a keen eye for customer service can work with diverse clients to message properly. An employee who was faced with hard ethical dilemmas and had to choose between breaking the law and paying soldiers who died in the line of duty can not come to either decision quickly or lightly. Those hard decisions, though difficult only show perseverance in critical thought, rather than making bad choices – or worse, no choices at all. I have made the difficult choice to break the law in order to continue paying a last bit of decency the Army will ever part –the death gratuity–with when a
soldier dies in the line of duty. I have wrestled with some of those decisions for years and while I still question them – I stand by doing the wrong thing once in order to do the right thing numerous times.
No program – no matter the number of keywords you use will ever discover that.
I have been out of the workforce for nearly 4 years. I have built two businesses from scratch, I have volunteered and I have completed a Master’s degree from a competitive university. I have not sat idly by waiting for the right position to come into my life. I have applied and been kicked out of the running for reasons such as not being veteran enough, my military service not counting for anything in the job description as listed, and being over-educated and/or over-qualified. I have interviewed and been gawked at. I have been asked inappropriate questions. I have stumbled on questions like “describe your worst boss.” It is not a good enough answer to know that there is a learning curve with most supervisors and I am not allowed by the rules set forth to describe the incompetence and ineptitude that is prevalent in the military, government and many nepotistic and crony positions now being filled. I know I do not count as “unemployed” anymore – because I ran out of the unemployment I earned. But, I am unemployed – even with a work from home position I created in my own company – but your program will not count me as earning your organization a tax credit for hiring me.
I have applied within the government sector and without – but I am not a white, retired male and therefore computer programs and interns feel I am not worthy of consideration. I do not ride the coat-tails of my husband’s military service – I stand on my own merits: first serving for 6 years, then completing a bachelors degree in under 3 years from the University of Washington, then working diligently while my husband deployed, with three small children at home and completed my masters degree – against all odds.
I have nearly lost a marriage. I have been pushed aside by the VA. I have couponed, extremely. I have learned to sew and knit to make clothes for my children. I have read the websites on how to write this letter: “Be yourself unless you are not exactly what we have programmed the computer to want – in that case you’re screwed.” I have mock interviewed, I have been humbled and felt unworthy.
I have spoken with experts who all say the same thing: I do not count. I do not count as a veteran for hiring purposes; I do not count as a person for candidacy. I do not count as a business owner, my education and experience do not count for employment because I am not a retired 1st Sergeant who was down-range behind the wire making a newsletter that no other soldier would ever read. I have been told making a social media presence for an organization was impossible – and then I have done it. I have told the truth – and told my bosses what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear. I have spoken up and I have shut up – I am keenly aware of the times to do both.
If I apply for a lower level position, I am not the right kind of wife, the right kind of veteran and I do not show my boobs enough to be considered.
Thank you for your time, I look forward to making an appointment and discussing my skills at a time convenient for you.
The veteran who does not fit your mold.