When it comes to writing cover letters, it’s not always what you say that’s important, but also what you don’t say that can make a big difference in getting an interview or not.
Here’s how not to describe your employment history:
“My former supervisor considered me to be the brightest light on the Christmas Tree. I could
always be counted on to think outside the box, and co-workers appreciated the way I was
willing to go the second mile for them…”
This might be a winning entry into the Annual Festival of Clichés and Stale Expressions – but chances are, this cover letter won’t win you that all-important job interview.
It’s a simple fact that the use of such bland, clichéd descriptions and phrases not only trivializes a cover letter, they make the writer sound insincere, lazy, and dull. As one prominent film acting coach has said, “Nobody plays you like you.” When writing cover letters, your own thoughts, words, and descriptions are much more effective than those pulled out of the Manual of Trite and Overused Phrases.
In short, strive to make your cover letter like water from an artesian spring – fresh and clear.
Another danger when it comes to writing cover letters lies in burdening the reader with large amounts of technical vocabulary and keywords related to the position you’re applying for. Now, a certain amount of this is appropriate and even desirable – after all, you want to demonstrate you know the profession and are a competent choice for the job you’re seeking – but using such vocabulary is like Tabasco sauce on gumbo: a little bit goes a long way, but too much can ruin the meal.
It’s important to remember that the person who first reads your cover letter – most likely a Human Resources Director, or one of his/her assistants – may or may not be knowledgeable about the position for which you are applying. It’s possible – even probable – the HR person at a zoological research facility understands the definition of pleisiomorphy, and realizes that Sister Taxa is not a Greek pop singer, but you can’t make this assumption. The safest course of action is to carefully choose a few key phrases that demonstrate your understanding of the field and the specific position you’re applying for, while making sure the cover letter – and resume – doesn’t get so bogged down in technical terms that it leaves the reader completely bewildered.
Again, the key here is virgin spring water – fresh and clear. Keep your cover letter free of trite, overused phrases and avoid obscure, arcane terms (even if they do pertain to the job) and you’ll be that much further ahead when it comes to landing that vital interview.
More information on writing cover letters can be found throughout this blog and website. Visit CoverLetterCentral.com for sample cover letters.
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