The job I was applying for was a part time seasonal custodian at a local museum.
In light of the fact that my custodial experience is 20 years ago, I decided when preparing the cover letter that it was probably better to go with the line in the classified ad about “an enthusiasm and love for the High Desert region” rather than discuss my experience in banking, clerical positions and data entry.
While I have a lot of that type of experience (over 10 years, to be picky about it) it doesn’t translate well to a custodial position.
I acknowledged that my custodial experience was in the early to mid 1980’s and that it was not on my resume (which I attached as a word document)
Then to play up my local connections I said that I was born in the old St Charles Hospital (which is now a Phoenix Suites), that my mother was born in a small maternity hospital over on the west side of town, that my maternal grandfather worked at the Shevlin-Hickson mill back in the day, that my stepmother owned the Pine Tavern (a well-known and well-loved restaurant that is still open to this day in downtown Bend), and that my father was one of the last owners of the Masterson-St Clair Hardware store here in Bend.
I also included that I attended Bend area schools up through the 9th grade
This to me was showing my potential employer that my roots in Central Oregon run deep.
Also, given the fact that this is a museum, there is a lot of historical significance to ALL of the places I mentioned (especially in light of the fact that only one of the five places still exist).
I ran that by a online friend of mine and you would have thought I’d said that I eat small children for breakfast. “Just an observation, but don’t you think it is distracting to put all the personal information in rather than focusing on what you have to offer?’
Hmmm, what I have to offer is 20-year old custodial experience.
How does my 16 years in the Portland area (again with the banking, clerical, data entry, postal service, etc experience) show what I have to offer as a custodian?
I felt that by focusing on irrelevant experience in a totally different physical location I would have been sending at least two messages to my potential employer, neither of which would assist me in getting the job I was applying for.
Message #1: Even though the ad says “enthusiasm and love for the High Desert area” I have chosen to tell you about my irrelevant experience in banking in the Portland area.
Portland, Oregon and Bend, Oregon are 180-200 miles away from each other one way and separated by a mountain range to boot. There are so many differences between these geographical areas that I feel this would say to the person reading the email that the person sending the email (ME) didn’t even read the ad before sending off a resume and cover letter ….. that is not exactly the message you would want to send to a potential employer.
Message #2: This is a custodial position (ie cleaning, mopping, sweeping, dusting, etc).
Why should I emphasize my lack of recent custodial experience by detailing my banking/clerical/data entry experience unless of course I want to say to this potential employer “I am massively overqualified for this position and probably will be out the door as soon as I can find something in my field.” Again, this is not exactly the message you would want to send to a potential employer.
I am happy that I’d sent off the cover letter and resume before running the cover letter by my friend–and yes I had told him the job was a custodial job for a local museum– because I think he probably would have convinced me to drop all the (relevant) historical and personal details in favor of including irrelevant details about non-transferable skills and experience.