ten things recent graduates should NOT write in a cover letter

The history of the cover letter is a pretty interesting one. Its origins date back to the 1950s, beginning with a New York Times job ad for an industrial paint chemist. “Submit resume with cover letter” is what it read. Since then, the cover letter has become an inevitable and tedious part of each job application.

It’s giving you headaches, isn’t it? Don’t stress: you’re not the only one who finds the cover letter challenging. As a recent graduate, you certainly believe you have the skills and knowledge needed for the jobs you’re applying for. During college, you did everything in your power to become an in-demand expert. But how do you prove it in the most convincing way?      

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the least fun documents you’ll ever open

 

Let’s list the things you shouldn’t include if you want the cover letter to be convincing.

  1. Formal Statements

Recent graduates with no experience in job applications think that writing an overly formal cover letter and sending it to all job ads is okay, but it is not.

You may get inspired from a template, but you mustn’t write the boring formal text that most other candidates will submit.

What to do instead? Read the job description and write a cover letter that sells you! Figure out what the hiring manager is looking for in a new hire and write something that would make them excited to invite you for an interview.

2. Overly Enthusiastic Claims

“I can’t wait to start working for your company and make it even more successful!”

Whoa; hold your horses! It’s okay to show some enthusiasm, but you must not act like you already got the job with the mere fact that you sent a cover letter.  

3. Desperate Requirements 

“I’m in a terrible financial situation right now and I have to get a job ASAP. Please contact me; otherwise I’d be in huge trouble.”

No. Just… no! Any sign of despair in your cover letter will ruin your chances to get an interview. Be confident. You’ll get that job because you deserve it, not because you desperately need it.

4. Flattering Language

“I admire your leadership. Your organization has the most inspiring team today. No other firm can measure it.”

It’s okay to show your interest to work for this specific company in your cover letter. However, you must avoid using flattery language. Speak about specific projects and accomplishments that inspire you and allow you to see yourself as part of this team.

5. Modest Descriptions of Yourself

“I may not be the brightest, most creative, and most talented graphic designer in the world, but I am very focused and determined to complete tasks on time.”

The part with being focused and determined is great. The first part of the sentence, however, is not okay at all. You must convince the HR manager that you’re the right person for the job. You won’t write “I’m the best one you could hire,” but you’ll convey the exact same message in other words.

6. Explanations for Graduating Late

If you decide to explain that you graduated late because you took a year off to travel, then do it. If, however, your explanations involve something like “The professors were too harsh and one of them hated me” or “this educational system sucks and it needs rapid changes,” then save it.

7. The Things You Don’t Like about the Job

“In my honest opinion, I think you could probably lower the responsibilities for this job description, or at least offer a higher pay.”

No. You apply to jobs you like. You don’t apply to the ones that are not up to your standards, so there’s no need for claims like these in your cover letter.

8. Money Talk

Save this one for the interview. Hiring managers don’t like seeing your salary expectations in the cover letter.

9. False Information

Whatever you do, do not lie! Hiring managers have their ways of checking facts. Even if you get the job and had lied, you’ll still suffer the consequences later on. Don’t “stretch” your skills, don’t lie about the dates of internships or graduation, and don’t include certificates you never got.

10. Fillers

Do you think you don’t have much to write in a cover letter, so you decide to fill it in with vain statements? Do you just follow a template and fill in the blanks? You shouldn’t do that!

Pay attention to every single word you write. Use simple language with no flowery additions. Keep the paragraph short. The cover letter itself should be brief (half page is enough). In such a short document, there’s really no point in writing something that doesn’t belong there.


Now you know what NOT to write in a cover letter. You’re closer to a clean and convincing format!  Happy job hunting!                                                                                      


unnamed-1Sarah is in charge of website maintenance and content creation for MyMathDrone.  She uses her strong knowledge of marketing, engineering, commercial legal matter, and commercial of-the-shelf systems for business consulting with young entrepreneurs.

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