An Open Letter To My Future Employer

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Dear Potential Employer,

You know, I had written an earlier version of this letter that I thought was pretty boss and by the time I was done with it I was like “wait, this is just a glorified cover letter!” I don’t want to give you that. If you were to hire me sure you would get a “hard working, fast learning, detail-oriented” individual, but you’d actually be working with someone who reads economic textbooks for fun and used to be able to solve a Rubix cube in under 2 minutes. I say used to because right now I’m stuck on the last row, and it’s taken me a lot longer than 2 minutes to do the first two.

Finding a good job today is HARD. When I say a good job, I don’t necessarily mean a job that pays well and gives you good benefits. There are plenty of people out there who have a stacked resume, loads of experience, can land any job pretty quickly, and I suppose you could call them successful. What I mean is a job that you get excited to go to every single day: one that energizes and motivates you so much that you couldn’t imagine doing anything or going anywhere else. It wouldn’t matter how much money you made, how many people applaud you, or where your name gets printed. Those are just added benefits to loving what you do. To me that is the true measure of success.

That’s what I’m really after and it’s taken me a long time to hone in on what that could be. I’ve jumped around from place to place and job to job because what sense does it make to waste time doing things that make you miserable? That’s just crazy! So if you take a look at my resume maybe you think well there’s no clear focus and maybe he’s flaky or maybe, you don’t. I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth, but I am done settling. I am flawed, and I make mistakes, and I haven’t really been sure about what I wanted until now. Whether you’re a recruiter, an HR manager, or someone just like myself, I think you can understand what I’m saying. Not everyone is going to have everything figured out right after graduation. These things take some time. I’m only human and I’m just trying to navigate life in a way that’s meaningful, just like you, just like everyone else.

Yeah, I am proficient in MS Office Suite, have learned multiple database systems, and have excellent verbal communication skills, but I am also a creator, a communicator, and a visionary. I love music, I’ve been to 20 Phish concerts, and have played guitar for 15 years. I attempted P90X three separate times, failed twice, and on the third try I lost 25 pounds and even did an extra 2 weeks of workouts. I have loved the sport of lacrosse my entire life and despite playing in leagues since the 2nd grade I never scored a single goal in high school.  I love brainstorming, bouncing ideas around, and watching them come to life. I love educating myself, I love learning, and I love being different. I can type 90 words per minute and am highly organized but so are a lot of other people. Refusing to submit to normalcy and embracing uniqueness are exactly the kind of things you should be looking for.

One thing I never really understood about job hunting is that you sort of have to hide parts of your humanity behind all the keywords and professional-isms. Seriously, nothing says hiding your humanity like writing a cover letter to an ATS resume-reading robot. The truth is, those keywords just don’t say everything, and neither does a chronological list of past places of employment. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

In January of 2017 I started applying to jobs at Syracuse University. It’s easily the best place to work in Syracuse and as someone who loves to learn and inspire, I knew I would be a good fit. I was looking to work directly with students and to learn hands on about higher education. After months and months of rejections without ONE single interview, I finally e-mailed the Director of Talent Management directly to ask for some feedback. Her response to me was “We generally don’t consider people with a background in music licensing and landscaping as candidates for higher education careers. There are openings in food service and the dining halls if you are interested and I can refer you to one of our HR reps for a preliminary interview.” As you can imagine, I was a little discouraged and to be frank, a bit insulted. People who never met me in person, much less even ever spoke to me rejected me from 20 different positions. But guess what? After that preliminary interview I was hired for a position in admissions working directly with international graduate and Ph.D students in the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, one of the top research colleges in the world. I started in January 2018, one year after my first application went out. All I needed was to get in front of someone, show them who I really am, and state my case.

“So what is your point? Where’s this going, Tom? “

This summer I did something I never imagined I’d be able to do (which you can actually read about in one of my other blog posts.) I left my jobs and my life in Syracuse and traveled the country in search of what is most important and meaningful. Leaving your jobs to drive around the United States in your Chevy Cruze for two and a half months might not seem like the most responsible thing in the world to do but I will tell you that it requires a tremendous amount of planning, organizing, budgeting, communication, honesty, bravery, sacrifice, problem-solving, and commitment. It was the best thing that I’ve ever done for myself, no question about it. I left in total abandon and came out on the other side with a more clear and honest vision than I’ve ever had in my life. I know what I want, I’m going to get it, and it’s not going to happen by going for and accepting any job that’s available.

You can’t exactly put “quit jobs to travel” at the top of your resume, but traveling solo led me on a path of discovery that allowed me to fully embrace what I’m good at and what I am most passionate about. I came up with a brand, a message, and designed a website as an outlet for my creative writing. I grew my Instagram following from less than 300 to now approaching 1,000 with my own pictures taken on an iPhone 7 that I learned to edit on my own, and by learning social media marketing through Facebook groups. I took SEO courses online using free coffee shop wi-fi thousands of miles from home and got people from China to revisit my site on a weekly basis. I eventually had one of my articles published on Thought Catalog. That’s huge, dude! Remember earlier what I said about added benefits? I never did this anticipating my name to be on Thought Catalog or to get messages from around the world from people saying they’re inspired, and I certainly didn’t do it for the money! I did it because I love to write. I did it because creating a logo, coming up with a color scheme, taking pictures of random things from weird angles, learning to edit photos, and connecting with people are things that energize me and make me feel like I am truly part of this world.

If you never take a leap of faith you will never be able to reach what you’re truly aiming for. You can’t fly if you don’t jump first. It takes a lot of courage and determination to jump. You don’t always know what’s over the edge or how far down you might go and it requires you to look fear straight on and to conquer it. I take risks; I put myself out there, and allow ideas to come to fruition. When I see something that I want or need, I go for it. If I’m not being challenged, I challenge myself. If I have to, I jump. Sometimes I fall completely flat, and sometimes I soar to new heights. It’s all a part of what you’re willing to do and how much you’re willing to push. I know exactly what I’m aiming for. My technical skills, experience, and competencies make me a great candidate, I don’t doubt that. It’s my no-excuses, make-it-happen attitude, and eagerness that make me a great hire and it’s that which I have never been more confident.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and I can’t wait to speak with you.

-Tom Dillon