Autodidact: self-taught


Cover Letters – Bane of the Unemployed

by V. L. Craven

I have to write a cover letter for my CV.

CVs/Resumes are fine, because they’re straightforward. ‘This is where I’ve worked and what I did whilst there.’ Fine.

Cover letters are the nightmare of those of us incapable of bragging without being sarcastic.

And is anyone as great as their cover letter implies? And if no one is, what are interviewers looking for? Surely, you know I’m, right? I’m not lying, but no one is as enthusiastic about being a secretary as I’m going to need to sound like. Is it more of an initiative test–to see if I can speel grood and use teh grammers?

My husband has chaired search committees before and says a cover letter can absolutely make or break a person’s chances even to get an interview. Grand. In one way, it’s good, because my CV isn’t spectacular. In another way, it’s a freakin’ cover letter.

So, I consulted the internet. And here is what it said:

From WikiHow: How to Write a Cover Letter
This is the absolute basic, cookie-cutter way to write a cover letter. If you need something and don’t have the time to put into writing the thing (e.g. you find out about a listing the day before it closes) go here and do what they say.

From Forbes: How to Write a Cover Letter
Being Forbes, this one is slightly more applicable to people applying to corporate jobs, but most tips can be used for applying to any job. A slideshow at the bottom of the page covers the bigger points.

From Wisebread: Stupid Things to Put in Your Cover Letter
There’s a typo in the second sentence of this article… However, the information in it is useful. It echoes some of the Forbes article, but would work a bit better for the Office Space types out there.

From Lifehacker: How to Write a Cover Letter that Employers Will Actually Read
This one is probably the best of the four links with information that can be applied to any job application requiring a cover letter and it also includes some links to even more sites,if you’re interested.

Something I’m seeing a lot is not to put ‘hard worker’ in your cover letters. That makes sense, but it was something we were told to include when I began applying for jobs that required cover letters ten years ago. Times change.

Another thing that’s changed is using the actual words from the advert in your cover letter. You’re not supposed to do that now. You’re supposed to show how you’ve been those things in past jobs.

And something that was completely new to me was mentioning someone you know in the company, saying they recommended the job to you and such. Seems a little nepotismy, but I’m fine with that at this point. Also, they recommend telling a story or anecdote. And keep it all under a page.

Some of the suggestions simply come down to writing skills like not proofreading, or starting too many sentences with ‘I’ or telling rather than showing.

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