Author, CEO & Founder

Learn More >>

How to Pitch Yourself On Paper the HUMAN Way (Or, Your Resume: A Horror Story)

In: Communication Skills

“Why won’t you kiss me?” he had asked.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Didn’t he understand what I was going through? Didn’t he have the same worries?!

He inched closer. I inched backward.

I couldn’t kiss him. Not there. Not with the faint smell of burnt popcorn swirling in my nostrils; the scent of sweaty leather fighting for an equal opportunity to infiltrate my senses.

There was suppose to be candlelight. And a bowl of spaghetti. And Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You playing softly in the background as we slurped onto the same strand of pasta. You know, how all good cartoon love stories start.

But instead, as I thumbed the laces of my rollerskate, the owner’s voice came screeching into our moment: That’s it, kids. Show’s over. Time to go home. Move it on out.

It was 10PM and we were being kicked out of the New Milford Skating Rink—a place that was singlehandedly responsible for approximately 76% of all of the adult things I had seen during my thirteen years on the planet.

The first time I saw a man’s butt (when Eric the nineteen year old was “pants'd” in the middle of the floor); first time I saw a couple arguing, when he grabbed her arm and dragged her out; first time I had to step up to the counter and buy my own slice of frozen pizza; first time I saw a punch thrown in the parking lot. And now, it was the first time I would be kissed.

“Come here,” V had said, pulling his face toward mine in a last ditch attempt to seal the deal, even though the lights had already come on.

“It’s just….” I stammered, unsure how to tell him that I couldn’t kiss him. Not here. Not now. Maybe not ever.

He looked at me like a wounded puppy.

“It’s just…” I tried again. “Alright, this is going to sound stupid….”

“Talk to me, Ash” he had said in a grown-up fashion, as if he had suddenly transformed into a forty five year old shrink. “What’s on your mind?”

Show’s over, kids. Time to go home.

“It’s just that I don’t understand how…our noses…won’t…” I breathed in sharply. “…collide.”

It was a subject I had given a great deal of consideration—especially because all of my girlfriends had already been kissed, and there I was, bringing up the rear some six months later, still not having done it.

When you’re thirteen years old, six months is like six years—give or take a few episodes of Clarissa Explains It All. Plus, science class had only taught us how plate tectonics worked underneath the ground; we had no instruction on how the ones worked inside your heart. Or maybe that was just me having a damn near heart attack.

“Come here, dummy,” V had said softly, almost romantically. I had never liked being called a dummy so much.

He slid his arm behind my waist—oh my god can he feel my fat rolls?!—and then, as gently as if he were going to blow the seeds off a dandelion globe, he approached. His breath rippled over my lips—another first adult experience—and for the first time, I felt what it was like to have someone’s full attention.

Flashbacks from that day scrolled like a stock ticker at the bottom of my brain when, a hundred years later and just a few weeks ago, long after V was buried having had his last kiss at age twenty-one, I read a message from his little sister on Facebook.

“Ash,” it read. “I need a favor.”

The message went on to tell a tale familiar to many.

I need a job. My husband lost his. I’ve been a stay at home mom for eleven years. I haven’t worked since 2005.

There was an opportunity, perhaps, that she had heard about through a friend of a friend. “Tell her to send her resume and a cover letter,” the employer had barked.

The problem is, she continued, I don’t even know where to start.

Which is a common stumbling block when most people sitting down to write this one-page, do-or-die document that’s suppose to sell you as a candidate, as an employee, as a person. Because that’s what things like resumes and cover letters are: A pitch on paper.

This is the kind of stuff that me and Jenny talk about all the time—usually while traveling to some random island somewhere together on business trips, as we've done in the past. As a career transition specialist, Foss has built an entire business around helping people like stay-at-home moms who haven’t worked in years and have no idea what to say, or for folks who maybe aren’t the most proud of their working history, but KNOW they could be great in a role if they were given the opportunity, or the folks who just want to have their pitch on paper handy for anything that could come up; you know, like getting on Oprah.

Because that’s the thing—you don’t even have to be in the job market. Knowing how to pitch yourself both on paper, and off, is one of the most important skills you can have in business.

So when V’s little sister approached me, I knew that if we spun things the right way, we could turn her non-existent work history into an asset. Or at least minimize it enough so the real focus was not the job history on the piece of paper, but her.

For the resume, I advised her to do what Jenny advises clients in her Weekend Resume Makeover Course. (Which I highly recommend—Jenny even tossed over a discount code for $50 off when I told her I was writing this post. The code is, appropriately, ASHAMBIRGE, and it’s good through this Friday, May 6th, if you need some hardcore pitch on paper advice.)

For the cover letter, however, I advised her to do this: Find your reason.

Here’s the thing: Whenever any employer puts out a job ad, they’re going to get a ton of resumes from random Tom, Dick and Harrys who would take any job if it fell from the sky. They’re not really interested in your company, or what you do—they’re just looking to make a buck. And employers know that. Which is why one of your biggest assets doesn’t have to be your job history and work experience; it can be your reason.

(Assuming, of course, we’re talking about creative jobs and you aren’t a licensed professional like a lawyer or a doctor, in which case you’ll need a reason and a hell of a resume.)

In other words, you are not applying because “it seemed like it would be a good fit.” Seemed my ass. It IS the perfect fit, and here’s why. (That’s where your reason comes in.) Approach it from perspective of: You are actively aiming toward this. You are actively going in this direction. And you’re actively pursuing a position with them specifically, and here’s why.

Are you wild crazy passionate about a project the company is working on?
Did you see one of their billboards and love the campaign so much, you made it a personal goal to do work at that caliber?
Have you made it your life’s mission to ________?
Are you obsessed with the way they’ve done X or Y or Z in their industry?
Is there something in your background that makes you this company’s soul mate?

Employees don’t like feeling like they’re a dime a dozen, and guess what? Employers don’t, either.

Make them feel special. Fan girl it up if you have to. And make your reason the reason why you’re applying to work with them specifically—not your job history. Nobody gives a shit about your resume if you can convince them you’ll be amazing in a role.

And then, do yourself a favor and pick up the phone. (I know, the telephone!)

Hey, Bob, this is Ash Ambirge. Listen, I’m really interested in X position, so I wanted to call and give you a heads up that I’m sending a cover letter over now. You think I could grab you for ten minutes to discuss?

Or, if you’re willing to take a risk, a little bit of humor can be even more effective at getting someone to drop their guard:

Hey, Bob, this is Ash Ambirge. Listen, I’m really interested in X position, so I wanted to call and give you a heads up that I’m sending a cover letter over now. You think I could grab you for ten minutes to persuade you to fall madly in love with me as a candidate?

Why does humor work in that scenario? Because it’s unexpected, it’s delightful, it makes people smile, and it exudes confidence. And confidence—not to be confused with arrogance—is one of the greatest assets any potential candidate can have.

(P.S. If you’re applying to a big company and you get the secretary gatekeeper, tell them that you’re interviewing with Bob for X role, and you'd like to speak with him briefly. Otherwise, they might shove you off as a sales person. Even though that's kindddd of what you are right now—wink.)

When I proposed that V’s little sister do this, she responded: I’m so nervous! You don’t think he’ll think I’m being pushy?

This isn’t being pushy: This is what motivated sounds like. Pushy would sound like this:

Hey, Bob. I sent my resume. Did you have a chance to review it?

Two days later:

Hey, Bob. I haven’t heard back from you yet. Just checking to make sure you got my resume.

There is a fine line between going after what you want, and making yourself a total useless annoyance. If you're going to pick up the phone, ask for something.

And this, just like everything else in life, always goes back to the same thing: Work on sounding more HUMAN. Get the script out of your head. Stop thinking you have to sound exactly like every other job candidate that’s ever spoken out loud. Your only job is to sound like you’d be perfect for the job. And guess what?

Whatever that is, is the way you need to tilt your approach.

Which is, apparently, is also good advice when you’re thirteen years old about to have your first kiss, scared out of your mind that your noses are going to collide.

Tilt your approach.

After all, the worst that can happen is love.

The best thing that can happen is the memory of it.

P.S. If you do decide to take the plunge and use the promo code ASHAMBIRGE for the Weekend Resume Makeover Kit, not only do you get $50 off, but Jenny will also donate a portion of every sale back to The Middle Finger Project. Those commissions will, in turn, be used to continue to grow this community. Hoorah, baby!

Nov 3


23 Phrases Every Stressed Out, Strung Out, Well-Meaning (Yet Irritable) Business Owner Needs to Memorize TODAY.

Nov 3, 2014

Being able to elegantly SAY WHAT YOU MEAN isn’t always an easy task— —particularly when you’re too busy for petty sh*t like showers, your stress hormones are being IV dripped into your veins at the rate of a class five river rapid, your head is doing Beetlejuice-style 360s as you juggle fourteen and a half clients (and their really cute idiosyncrasies—wink), […]

In: Communication Skills


Sep 26


How to Introduce Yourself at a Dinner Party Like a Cool-As-A-Cucumber BALLER

Sep 26, 2018

“So, what do you do?” These are the words WE ALL DREAD, FAM. Even professional communicators—cough cough—who work online and write inappropriate blog posts and whose job titles can’t easily be corralled onto some adorable fucktard pin. This past week, however, I had the opportunity to reflect on the personal intro more than ever when I found myself at not […]

In: Communication Skills


Nov 13


“How do I raise my rates without making it awkward?”

Nov 13, 2015

Well isn’t this the motherloving question of the year. It gets asked a lot sometime between the stages of that time you started your business and worked for peanuts because you were feeling wildly insecure about your worth and holy bananas I’ve been doing this for years and I’m still barely making rent even though I […]

In: Communication Skills


Aug 7


“…Is There Any Movement On The Price?”

Aug 7, 2017

Her name was A. She had funk to her; style. She was a bohemian turned business woman, and a proper English girl, at heart. She was tall, self-assured, and the kind of woman who refreshingly said, “no thanks” without worrying about hurting your feelings. No thanks, I don’t drink. No thanks, I’ve got to get […]

In: Communication Skills


Apr 21


My Favorite Line for Handling Angry People With Dignity + Grace

Apr 21, 2017

“Why don’t you tell me what you think would be appropriate?” Useful language for handling complex situations like: A customer is unsatisfied. An employee is complaining. A friend is upset. Your sister is angry you don’t see her enough. A gorgeous Italian man is holding a very serious grudge because you denied his advances as […]

In: Communication Skills


Sep 19


How to Handle Inconsiderate Jerk Offs

Sep 19, 2013

At some point, you’re going to get into a dispute with someone. Maybe it’ll be a client. Maybe it’ll be a friend. Maybe it’ll be your 6th grade math teacher, who, first of all, is actually still alive, and second, who you’ve come to mercilessly hunt down to let her know just how much she […]

In: Communication Skills


Dec 7


Boo-Yah, Time to Raise Your Rates! Here’s a Proven Script You Can Use (That Won’t Even Make It a Little Bit Awkward)

Dec 7, 2018

Haiiiiiiiiii! It’s December, and you know what that means! TIME TO RAISE YOUR RATES. You need to send the following email to your clients RIGHT NOW. (Like, right now. Especially because today is Friday, and this email is always served best on a Friday with a beer.) Now then. *clears throat* This miraculous email that […]

In: Communication Skills


Sep 28


How to (Naturally!) Transition Into a Good-Natured Sales Pitch Over The Phone—Without Seeming Like a Total Greedy, Awkward, Weirdo Troll

Sep 28, 2017

It’s the moment you’ve been dreading. You’re there, on the phone. It’s almost time to wrap up. There’s THE awkward silence. You know you’re suppose to try and sell them some kind of 3-month package—or some other salesy bullshit—but how do you transition the godforsaken conversation?! This is so not natural for you. The whole thing […]

In: Communication Skills


I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

Enter your email address and I’ll send you my advice column every week sharing everything I’ve learned—and so much more.

But no serial killers. I promise I won’t send those.

Privacy Policy Info Here