3 Reasons Why I Quit Writing Professional Cover Letters For Good

Are you fresh out of college or near graduation and wondering why every application comes back as a rejection?

You’re not alone.

There could be hundreds of reasons why you are not getting the desired response from your application. Maybe you don’t have the relevant experience. Maybe those PG-13 selfies you posted on twitter freshman year, and again last week, just don’t do you justice. Maybe you’re actually qualified for the job but your cover letter writes you off as being vapid and pedantic.

Do people even use those words?

No, of course not. Maybe it’s time you change the words you use too.

Listen, you have a lot of friends because you’re fun, you got good grades because you’re smart and you call your grandma every weekend because you have a warm soul. You’re actually kind of cool. So why are you telling your future employer that you have a demonstrated track record of being boring.com? See if any of these sound like you:

“As a skilled manager with an outstanding background in successful project planning strategies, I am seeking to join a progressive company poised for strong growth and success.”

“I would like to pursue a career in [whatever] where I can continue to learn and grow while applying my abilities in a position that will allow me to make a valuable contribution to your company.”

“My strong work ethic is evident from the fact that I have served as President of [a student organization] concurrent with my studies, as well as a summer internship at [some large corporation].”

Sound familiar? Then you should know the three reasons why I quit writing “professional” cover letters for good:

My college career coach fibbed.

Remember those really nice people from the advising and career services department your professor would invite to your business, sales or marketing classes? They were typically students too. While some of their information is useful for those with limited work experience, they too usually have limited experience applying and interviewing for new jobs.

The result? Lots of academic sounding information about formatting and what to say, and nothing about how to say it. Do not be mistaken, good information in the wrong format will land you the same job as bad information in the right format: applying somewhere else.

Make it sound as good as it looks by trying these tips:

  • Be clear, direct and bold.
  • Let your excitement show!

Being everyone else is a recipe for fitness-less.

Vague and generic descriptions of success apply to everyone. I write cover letters in my own prose for a specific reason: I want to work where I fit with the culture and team. Putting my personality into the cover letter lets the hiring manager know immediately if I am worth an interview or not. It’s nothing personal, we both want the best outcome from the job search and this helps both parties.

Be true to yourself by trying these tips:

  • Draft with your heart, edit with your brain.
  • Believe the right company will value your personality.

I need practice positively talking about the topic I dread most, myself.

I have been stumped by the hardest interview question over and over again.

“Can you tell me a little about yourself?”

It is the adult interview equivalent of my parents asking what I want for dinner. Every time I think, “I don’t know. Should you maybe ask something where I would know the answer?” I eventually conjure up some basic information but I always leave out the cool stuff like how I was a resident DJ for one of the best nightclubs in Michigan, how I manage a festival stage as a volunteer in the summer, and how I have a tendency to answer a question with another question.

Call me crazy, but that is what I want to tell my future employer. They have already seen my resume and know all of the career details. They really want to know about the human you too.

Practice positively talking about yourself by trying this tip:

  • Write a cover letter even when it is not required.

The best take away from this post comes my friend Albert Einstein. He said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” Dare to be a little different.


PS: This is my first live blog post on the web! Let me know how I did by commenting on a scale of “Yay!” to “Boo!”.

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