The cover letter can be the most daunting part of a job search.

It’s a blank canvas that you can mistakenly fill with cookie-cutter copy ripped from the web, folksy appeals, technical jargon, or anything else – and the big problem is: One wrong move can sink your chance of getting hired.

There are a few big cover letter red flags that recruiters see over and over. Avoiding them can keep your entire application from being sent directly into the garbage can.

“I’m excited…”

Hiring managers get bored of seeing applicant after applicant say how “excited” they are to be applying for the position. After awhile, it starts to ring hollow.

Journalists are taught not to “tell” their readers but to “show” them the details of a story. The same approach should apply to your resume. Don’t “tell” the hiring manager you’re excited; “show” them by mentioning how you “worked hard though four years of college in to apply to a job like this,” or “looked forward to each day of an administrative internship last summer.”

Name dropping

If you know someone in the company with some degree of respect or authority, you might be tempted to mention them right off the bat. Unfortunately, this rarely impresses.

Instead of just saying ‘I know so-and-so,’ talk about any insight your connection provided you. Maybe the company has a great working environment. Perhaps you have a lot in common with the administrator you’d be working with. Maybe your unique skill set is a perfect fit.

Ideally, you want to use this opportunity to communicate the unique value you can provide the company or the specific pain points you can ease. Try to fit these points into your cover letter, instead.

“As someone with six years of administrative experience…”

While there’s technically nothing wrong with that sentence, everyone uses it, and using it too wastes the opportunity to express some uniqueness or personality that could give you an edge.

Try to connect your years of experience with what your learned and how it has informed your outlook. You could say that six years of experience has “taught me humility and patience, and those were hard lessons to learn.”

This is your chance to come across as a real person, someone a hiring manager can connect to on an emotional level. Making that connection will increase your chances moving forward.

“I saw your posting on Job Site X…”

This is a useful bit of information and it does provide a bit of context, but it doesn’t really increase your chances of getting hired.

Hopefully, you did a bit of research o the company before deciding to apply, and rather than saying an ad prompted you to apply – discuss the positive things your research turned up. Doing this lets the hiring manager know you are truly interested in what the company does and how it operates.

At Cornerstone, we help job seekers with every part of the application process. If you’re looking for some assistance or are curious about what opportunities we have in store, click here to contact us today!




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