Today’s self-help tip: if you’re looking for a job, I strongly advise that you try not to follow the path this guy took.

I have to admit, however, a few years ago while doing a job search, I decided that spitting out generic cover letters probably wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I started experimenting. My real aim was to try and find out if HR people or hiring managers really even bother to read cover letters anymore. My gut told me they didn’t.

Anyway, I started inserting random sentences, one of which was “I know every single phone area code in the United States by heart.” At the time, this talent was something I actually could boast. Since then, there’s been too many area codes added, so I don’t know them anymore, but back then I really did know them all. Please don’t ask why.

Another sentence I used on cover letters occasionally was “Oprah Winfrey once served me breakfast on airplane.” This is also a true statement. Other than that, I’d throw in sentences about baseball stats, famous people I’ve met or things my dentist told me. No kidding.

The result? A flood of responses. This proved my theory wrong – I guess people actually do read cover letters, although I still believe to an extent that they’re largely ignored. Most of the responses were complimentary towards my inventiveness, but none of them led to any job offers. Such is life. I ended up getting a job through a friend – the way it almost always happens.

The new American Idol started last night. As usual, I will stop watching when the actual compeition starts. If I want to hear smooth, pre-packaged FM dreck, I’ll just turn on the radio. I mean, I really don’t need to hear the original “On The Wings of Love,” much less some 19 year old singing it. Right? American Idol’s total brilliance is that for the first couple of weeks, they show bunches of auditions, most of which are utterly ridiculous and feature people who are atrocious singers or simply mentally ill. Sometimes it’s both. Either way, watching the auditions guarantees many laughs. I’m willing to bet that as the reality craze slows down (and it will), that American Idol will see it’s best ratings only when they show the defectives, for the real competition itself is such a bore.