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An Old Guy’s Cover Letter to an HR Manager

July 24, 2021

(I have been applying for writer jobs and have been met with a deafening silence. Therefore I thought it time to alter my cover letter to address the elephant in the room — that elephant being an old guy trying to get a job in today’s professional world.)

Dear Hiring Manager:

I am interested in your position for a writer. I suspect that you will want to know my weaknesses and flaws, and why I would not be ideal for a job demanding that I know how to spell words and then arrange them into sentences. Allow me to outline all my defects.

Let us start with the fact – set in biology and linear time – that I am an old man, not, mind you, a senior citizen, but closer to social security than being short of the legal drinking age. This MUST mean that I must shave my ears on a weekly basis and that I yell at kids to get off my lawn – that is, if I had a lawn. And if I did have a lawn, then I would still not be willing to hold forth on the all-encompassing subject of mulch. How could such an ancient man know how to write an Instagram ad? In other words, how could I possibly click boxes on a web template and then employ synonyms for words like luxurious and mysterious? The current consensus is that men born before 1995 lack the inherent ability to navigate a website and use a thesaurus. And how can anyone like me who has read all the Western Canon know how to write a training manual on the Python NumPy library – or, better, to outline instructions on how to put together a kitchen table? Surely not a guy who MUST be dragging along an oxygen tank and limping like Captain Ahab, no matter that I work out six days a week without once staring at my smart phone for five minutes between sets!

My age offers another red flag – that I have never once used an emoji in a text or an email or even on the back of a napkin while sitting in a run-down pizzeria while on a date with a socialite. It’s my bad that I prefer to express myself in words and full sentences. I know, that’s sooo 1851 – the same year Melville published Moby Dick and declined to use an emoji to represent the White Whale. No wonder the novel suffered abysmal sales during his lifetime!

Of course, I MUST be a socially unenlightened crustacean. Forget that I spent the summer of 1984 in Provincetown, MA, a 99% gay community, long before it was fashionable to have a gay friend; or that, while hitchhiking 18,000 miles around the country as a very pretty straight boy, I was always polite in rejecting the hundreds of low-ball offers made to me older gay men wanting to fondle me. Five dollars for a blow-job, really you cheap bastard!  And we should also forget that I grew up with, and later worked alongside, actual black people in Philly, Trenton, Boston, Chicago and Florida; or that I spent five years researching and writing a book on African American history and literature – for none of this matters because I am an old pale guy and therefore an ignorant bigot! Or so says the 20-yr-old college sophomore who has never paid a bill or done their own laundry. (Note to spoiled liberal arts major: set water temperature, select cycle, start and add detergent, and then call me a dinasour…in that order.). The sad thing it that, you, dear HR manager, will probably hire this clothes-washing-deficient child over me for the simple reason that they insert the words “like’ and “actually” into all their sentences and are thus the second coming of Kurt Vonnegut. (Kurt was a writer, by the way.)

Then there is my defective personality. I am more socially awkward than an autistic librarian at a black-tie charity function at the Park Avenue Armory. How could I possibly understand the sentence structure and worldview of a younger professional when we – the younger professional and me — speak the same language, come from the same country, and belong to the same species? There is no way that a dim-witted individual like me could ever grasp the meaning of phrases like “I do marketing for a non-profit” or “That’s, like, awesome, dude. Good for you!”

Then again, I have never been a so-called Professional – i.e., worked at a job that pays a lot to sit around a conference table spouting marketing clichés – a total flaw in my resume and human profile. True, I have a BS in Biology — earned in 2011, not, you might surmise, in 1905 when cigarettes were deemed a health food and long before it was established that DNA was the mechanism through which organisms passed traits down to their progeny; and true that I have written a lot of unpaid stuff geared toward an audience of social misfits, but I have for the most part made my living as a printer – meaning I have spent a lifetime busting my knuckles against a printing press and then expressing my displeasure in a string of obscenities. My work attire has been a torn T-shirt and gym shorts, though I keep at my home desk an instruction sheet on how to tie a tie. I still marvel at the sight of men and women visiting one of my printing plants dressed in business suits who will nod their heads and say, “That’s interesting” and then get paid twice my salary. It must be magic!

So, yeah (a colloquial term for “yes”, being that I am a working class barbarian), I am totally disqualified for any writing job, whether it be creating ten-word hashtags, plugging in the pertinent information into a grant proposal format, making witty videos (never mind that I have written award-winning screenplays and am well versed in Adobe Premiere Pro film editing), putting together a trade manual of the abstruse topic of furniture assembly, or conning the female demographic into buying over-priced perfume and lotion through an Instagram ad. There is no freakin’ way an old guy like me could perform any of these basic writing tasks.

Thank you in advance for your eye-rolling consideration and for the forthcoming form letter of rejection.


James Johnson

(Check out my writings at and that includes you HR Managers)


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