This is the inevitable process a lot of people use to apply for jobs. It sounds quite bad when you first read it, but I assure you there’s some sound logic behind it. When we apply for a job we want, we put heart into it. We put all our best feet forward. And if we get rejected, we assume it was because other people of higher caliber applied. There’s always someone “better” out there (the question is, why are they always applying for our job of all jobs?). But we are left with what we consider a top-knotch cover letter and resume. The logical conclusion: we’ll use it again for the next application. And the next, and the next – brilliant!

In essence, it’s a fantastic plan. From a practical standpoint, it’s pretty unreliable. The number of times I’ve sent off a cover letter and then discovered that I’d left in that top line “applying for your advertised role for a [fisherman]” when the new application was for a publishing assistant… is embarrassing (disclaimer: I’ve never applied for a role as a fisherman). The cover letter is brilliant otherwise, right? Not if fishing requires different skills to publishing. Thankfully, resumes are more flexible. We can generally get away with using the same one. We just need to watch out for skills and experience that might confuse or put off employers. If we’ve fished for twenty years full-time and then worked for a press for a year – and we include both on our resume – the HR manager at the publishing job is probably going to assume we’re better suited for a fishing job than their office.

In short, though, copying/pasting is one of those things that is sometimes viable (with care) but is inevitable nonetheless. Jobs throw out more resumes than we do tissues while we have head colds. It’s hard to compete with that kind of turnover, so we copy/paste and move on to the next employer or opening.

Then we cross our fingers.

However, keep this in mind: if you really, really, really want the job, don’t just copy and paste. Give your resume a good scouring and a trim. Add some frills if you’ve gained any. And if you don’t want to write a cover letter from scratch, make sure you read every word in your candidate before you send it off.

And ask yourself this: if you were the HR manager of the studio/company/business/etc you applied for, would you hire yourself? I would – but I guess I’m being too lenient, because it hasn’t gotten me anywhere yet.

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