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How NOT to Start Your Cover Letter

The following post is courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap:


On a weekly basis any hiring manager probably receives between 50 and … well, probably hundreds of resumes and cover letters.  The key is to catch his or her attention from the start; and the best place to do that is in your cover letter.  So I am going to tell you about the worst possible way to start your cover letter—and then give you some creative alternatives to use instead.

Here is the most boring intro line because everyone uses it:

Please accept my resume for consideration of the (XYZ) position within your organization.

What a snoozer!  Everyone uses that line; let’s see … being like everyone else isn’t going to get you very far in your job search now is it?  No, it’s not.  So you need to be different.  But not just different—you need to be unique and appear more valuable than the average joe.  Let’s take a look at some more creative and attention grabbing opening lines:

Administrative:
If you are spending too much time compiling tedious lists of general office duties and administrative tasks, then I have the solution for you.  Try this: “My experiences in office administration and client services have equipped me with a multitude of skills including office management, business operations, and exemplary customer service.  I am confident that my application of these and my many other skills would be an asset to your company.”

Customer Service:
It’s twice as hard to attract a new customer as it is to maintain an existing one.  Unfortunately, this fact is often overlooked by many businesses.  So exploit this reality.  Here’s an example of what you should write:  “Delivering high-quality, responsive service is vital in (industry x).  And that’s exactly what you’ll get when you hire me.  As my resume indicates, I have worked in client services for more than (number) years, so you won’t have to incur great expense while training me.

Nonprofit:
Try something like this: “In today’s challenging economic climate, many people will respond to your advertisement.  Few will be interviewed.  One will be hired.

However …

Of the many who will respond, few will be as qualified as I am, having in-depth experience in community and public outreach.  No one else will bring my track record and the expertise I offer—expertise that equips me to immediately begin delivering results for you with maximum positive effect to your bottom line.

General:
“Integrity.  Innovation.  Initiative.

If you have these qualities in mind for the position of (position title) then I suggest we meet to discuss the numerous qualifications I would bring to your organization.  With my demonstrated track record of successfully directing pharmacy operations and introducing initiatives that directly impacted the bottom line, I am confident that I would be an excellent fit for the position at (company name).

Of course, these are only a few sample introductions, and the remainder of your cover letter needs to be just as dynamic as the introduction.  But nothing is more important than that initial first impression; and you are sure to win them over when you choose something unique, creative, and captivating.


Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter.

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

 

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Comments

s4xton

I recently started a cover letter by saying "RESUMES ARE BORING." Then listed three kick-ass bullet points: two high-profile quotes about me and my relevant work for the position and a working example of exactly the kind of thing the position is looking for.

Then I said if you really want to read my resume, it's on the next page.

I've completed my third interview with them and we'll see if I get an offer.

Ask a Manager / Alison Green

I agree that you want to avoid boring openers that sound like everyone else, but you also want to avoid sounding too much like a salesman. I'm always pretty turned off by stuff that sounds like the person had TRIED to come up with something gimmicky or is selling me too hard. The best cover letters I read are the ones that are simply conversational -- that sound like a real person writing to you, with a real personality. Not too formal, not too informal, and definitely not a sales pitch.

Greg Lane

Great suggestions and tips. IF an employer even reads a cover letter, you have to do something to really grab their attention from the beginning or they won't finish reading it, AND might not even bother looking at your resume if the cover letter doesn't grab their attention.

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