Resumés, etc.

How Recruiters Read Your Cover Letter

In college and law school, I had an internship every semester (sometimes two), and a part-time job. This means that my cover letter changed more than 21 times while in school. It also means that I met with more college Office of Career Services (OCS) personnel than is probably healthy. Each of them had totally different views on how a cover letter should be written, and all provided generic samples of what my cover letter should replicate.

One semester, I came in with a spiffy cover letter, and was told to drastically rewrite it by one OCS rep, only to be told later by another that I should have used my original version. Then my assigned advisor had me rewrite it again because the other versions were all wrong. Say what?

What I eventually learned, mostly from making a ton of mistakes, using horrible cover letters, and getting in-person critiques during actual interviews, was that OCS did not provide the best cover letter advice. They were setting students up to have inadequate, robotic, and frankly boring cover letters.

Why do these cover letters suck so badly? They don’t actually say anything.

And they’re boring.

Let’s go through one together, shall we?  (This is a real sample cover letter.)

Dear Hiring Representative,

You didn’t even put in the effort to insert my name into your cover letter. How sad for you.

Please accept my resume as an application for your Sales Associate position that is listed on your website.

You sound like you’re begging for your life.

As illustrated on my resume, I bring a strong amount of sales and sales management in local media.

Ooooooooh, illustrations on the resume! I know what you spent all day doing.

Most importantly, I have proven success in working in a market where tourism is a key part of the economy, so understand working with local direct clients.

Hush! This is the important part. So, you’re basically a tour guide? I wonder if you wore a mascot outfit or held a sign.

While in Nashville, I successfully launched cross-platform promotions using on-air, on-line and print to help a local restaurant increase business, which resulted in a 42% increase of their spending with our company.

Now we’re getting to the good stuff.

Let me address how my background is a match to your job description:

Holy. What was the first paragraph about then?

Management Experience/Cluster -As a General Sales Manager at Media Company, I managed a 4 station cluster and led a team of 27 sellers, with only 3 Local Mangers reporting to me.

Is the word “cluster” necessary? It makes me feel itchy.

My hands-on style allowed all of the teams to grow, learn new skills and over-achieve budgets 3 years in a row, even in a down economy.

Please keep your “hands-on” style far away from me. Also, please do tell how one “over-achieves” a budget.

According to Hungerford reports, we over achieved the market by 12% in the last year.

Your love of the phrase “over achieved” is quite evident. Nobody likes your inconsistent use of hyphens either. Also, what are Hungerford reports? Makes me want a sandwich.

Multi-platform Experience – Early on in my career, I learned to sell using added value utilizing events and then the website.

“And then…… the website.” It appears you learned how to write a fragment as well. Very anti-climactic.

Someone able to lead by example – as an involved manager, I have always felt it was important to be out on the streets and not sitting behind the desk.

We don’t currently have a position available on “the streets.” Maybe apply to Greenpeace?

I didn’t just go with the ‘rookie’s, I was out with the veterans too.

Now I just feel like you’re quoting a rap song.

Ability to train – this is an area where I am very unique! I was lucky enough to be mentored by a successful broadcaster when I started my career and have always wanted to “give it back.”

Exclamation points are too much for me right now. Why haven’t you stopped talking. Why is “give it back” in quotation marks? Is this another rap song quote?

Out of my own pocket, I have attended numerous leadership and training workshops, have invested in subscriptions to industry magazines.
So you can afford to pay for your own magazines. You know what nobody likes? Nobody likes a show off.

I have researched your market and stations. I understand what it is like to sell in your market from my experience in Miami.

Do you even know what our “market” is?

I will call you this week to schedule a time for us to talk about your position.

Someone needs to warn my secretary.