Writing For Application Letters

Writing For Application Letters-55
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.

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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.

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.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t reuse pieces of the letter over and over — if you’re applying for a bunch of very similar jobs, you absolutely can — but it does mean that it should feel like you wrote it with the nuances of this particular job in mind.

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A good litmus test: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter?

If you squander one of those pages by just repeating the content of the others, you’re doing yourself an enormous disservice.

Instead, your cover letter should go beyond your basic work history to talk about things that make you especially well-suited for the job.

Your cover letter is supposed to give a window into those things. Most cover letters break that rule — seriously, about 98 percent of them — and it’s such a huge waste of an opportunity!

Your initial application is going to be a few pages at best (in most cases, a one- or two-page résumé and a one-page cover letter).


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