Writing For Application Letters

Writing For Application Letters-65
That doesn’t mean that you can’t reuse pieces of the letter over and over — if you’re applying for a bunch of very similar jobs, you absolutely can — but it does mean that it should feel like you wrote it with the nuances of this particular job in mind.A good litmus test: Could you imagine other applicants for this job sending in the same letter?On the other hand, if it’s only one or two paragraphs, it’s unlikely that you’re making a compelling case for yourself as a candidate — not impossible, but unlikely.

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One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure that every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.” Your cover letter is your chance to provide context for things that otherwise might seem confusing or less than ideal to a hiring manager.

For example, if you’re overqualified for the position but are excited about it anyway, or if you’re a bit underqualified but still think you could excel at the job, address that up-front.

You’d probably talk about what you’re good at and how you’d approach the work. If you read much job-search advice, at some point you’ll come across the idea that you need to do Woodward and Bernstein–level research to hunt down the hiring manager’s name in order to open your letter with “Dear Matilda Jones.” You don’t need to do this; no reasonable hiring manager will care.

If the name is easily available, by all means, feel free to use it, but otherwise “Dear Hiring Manager” is absolutely fine.

Or if all of your experience is in a different field but you’re actively working to move into this one, explain that and talk about why — and explain how your experience will translate.

If you While there are some industries that still prize stiff, formal-sounding cover letters — like law — in most fields, your cover letter will be stronger if you write in a warm, conversational tone.For example, if you’re applying for an assistant job that requires being highly organized and you neurotically track your household finances in a detailed, color-coded spreadsheet, most hiring managers would love to know that because it says something about the kind of attention to detail you’d bring to the job.And that’s not something you could put on your résumé, but it can go in your cover letter.Or maybe your last boss told you that you were the most accurate data processor she’d ever seen, or came to rely on you as her go-to person whenever a lightning-fast rewrite was needed.Maybe your co-workers called you “the client whisperer” because of your skill in calming upset clients.I’ve read a lot of cover letters in my career — thousands of them, maybe even tens of thousands.(If you’re thinking that sounds like really boring reading, you’re right.) And in them, I’ve seen job seekers make the same basic mistakes over and over.Maybe you’re regularly sought out by more senior people to help problem-solve, or you find immense satisfaction in bringing order to chaos.Those sorts of details illustrate what you bring to the job in a different way than your résumé does, and they belong in your cover letter.Just as simple and straightforward: • “I’m writing to apply for your X position.” • “I’d love to be considered for your X position.” • “I’m interested in your X position because…” • “I’m excited to apply for your X position.” That’s it!You don’t need to open like an informercial pitchman. Stay away from simply asserting that you’d be great at the job, or proclaiming that you’re a great communicator or a skilled manager or so forth.


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