Today, I’m doing some HR screening and sorting through cover letters. I’ve been asked to help find a good candidate for an open position, and I keep running into writing like this:
In response to your advertisement regarding the position you are looking to fill, I am enclosing a resume for your review. Please consider this letter as a formal application presenting my background, education and experience.
Before you write your next cover letter, please be advised that this excessive dressing-up of language will actually hurt your chances of getting a job. If you’re a recent (or soon-to-be) graduate, you may have been told by a professor that this sort of writing is a good idea… I don’t often recommend this, but please openly defy your mentors. It’s not good enough for you to smile and nod, then go do things the right way. I call upon you to do your duty to your peers, and stop this misdirection in education!
Admittedly, I work in one of the least conservative work environments in the continental United States; however, before you scoff at my disdain for overly-flowery language, please consider that even the most conservative corporations are staffed by actual human beings, who know bullshit when they smell it.
When writing cover letters, remember that they’re read by people. Generally, these people are being paid to screen resumes, and only pass along the candidates that they feel would make good co-workers. I would personally prefer to work with a person whose cover letter reads more like this:
Hello, my name is Chris, and I’d like to apply for the position you have available. (Insert sentence summarizing skills relevant to the position.) Please let me know if you require any additional information, or if there is a convenient time that we can schedule an interview.
(Feel free to copy and paste that, by the way. No attribution necessary.)
For the record, the person who wrote the ridiculous sentence that I quoted passed the screening. I passed his resume along the chain, but his cover letter got lost in the shuffle. (You’re welcome.)
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