Eileen Kern

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How I Would Like to Work for You – Eudora Welty

In March of 1933, in an attempt to secure some work, 23-year-old Eudora Welty wrote [the linked] charming letter to the offices of The New Yorker. Incredibly, they turned her down.

I caught this Letter of Note from “How to Pitch Yourself: A Lesson from Young Eudora Welty’s Impossibly Charming Job Application to The New Yorker” by Maria Popova. I think that the implied lesson is that, for someone with confidence and humor, a single rejection can’t shake you from your destiny.

I appreciated the letter both as a writer myself and as someone deeply interested in the job hunt in general. I can see both why an employer might not select Welty for a job based upon her prose–but also appreciate the honesty in Welty’s letter about her interests and what she can bring to the table:

As to what I might do for you — I have seen an untoward amount of picture galleries and 15¢ movies lately, and could review them with my old prosperous detachment, I think; in fact, I recently coined a general word for Matisse’s pictures after seeing his latest at the Marie Harriman: concubineapple. That shows you how my mind works — quick, and away from the point. I read simply voraciously, and can drum up an opinion afterwards.

For the modern job hunter, I would recommend a slightly different tactic (after all, Welty’s letter didn’t work, however wonderful it is). As you write your cover letter, picture what your potential employer needs and why. Make sure that the story you tell in your cover letter not only speaks to your strengths, but also highlights how those specific strengths make you uniquely qualified to solve your potential employer’s business problems and make your potential employer more successful.