Writing For Application Letters

In fact, bad cover letters are so prevalent that they’re far more common than good ones.

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Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior people to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos.

Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.

You’d probably talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care.

If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine.

For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job.

And that’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.

The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right?

(This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.) In her revised version, she wrote this instead: “In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation.

One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. A five-year,

And that’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.

The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right?

(This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.) In her revised version, she wrote this instead: “In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation.

One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.” Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager.

For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but still think you could excel at the job, address that up-front.

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And that’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.The candidate had originally written, “I offer exceptional attention to detail, highly developed communication skills, and a talent for managing complex projects with a demonstrated ability to prioritize and multitask.” That’s pretty boring and not especially convincing, right?(This is also exactly how most people’s cover letters read.) In her revised version, she wrote this instead: “In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details — particularly when it comes to presentation.One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.” Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager.For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but still think you could excel at the job, address that up-front.Just as simple and straightforward: • “I’m writing to apply for your X position.” • “I’d love to be considered for your X position.” • “I’m interested in your X position because…” • “I’m excited to apply for your X position.” That’s it!You don’t need to open like an informercial pitchman. Stay away from simply asserting that you’d be great at the job, or proclaiming that you’re a great communicator or a skilled manager or so forth.If so, that’s a sign that you haven’t made it specific enough to you and are probably leaning too heavily on just reciting your work history.If your cover letters are longer than a page, you’re writing too much, and you risk annoying hiring managers who don’t have time to read lengthy tomes.If you’re still stumped, pretend you’re writing an email to a friend about why you’d be great at the job.You probably wouldn’t do that by stiffly reciting your work history, right?

.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.” Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager.

For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but still think you could excel at the job, address that up-front.

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