The GREAT JOB SOONER Blog

Cover Letter Bloopers & Lessons Learned

Cover Letter Bloopers & Lessons LearnedA friend recently shared a funny post about some strange statements found in cover letters, and I thought I’d pass them along – in the spirit of learning.

I am sicking and entry-level position.

This unwell sentence reminds us that the automated spelling and grammar checkers in Microsoft Word and in your email program are often ridiculously inadequate. Use them, but also proofread very carefully, or better yet hire a professional. Skilled proofreaders are available for as little as $2.50 per page. Try a site like elance.com – or contact me and I’ll refer you to someone.

I’m submitting my resume to spite my lack of C++ and HTML experience.

See the entry above re: spelling checkers, but there’s another issue here. If you don’t have all of the desired qualifications, should you apply anyway? It depends. Do you have a connection in the company who can put in a word for you? And are the skills you’re lacking non-essential, just “nice-to-have”? If your answer to one or both of these questions is “yes,” it may be worth applying.

I realize that my total lack of appropriate experience may concern those considering me for employment.

Are you really totally lacking? Or do you have experience gained from school projects, volunteering, or internships? Emphasize what you do have, and don’t be apologetic.

However, if your resume doesn’t very closely fit the jobs you’re applying to online – even though you know you can handle the job – it’s time to refocus your job search time on networking. Your real, three-dimensional self may be more convincing than your resume.

If your experience isn’t even close to the job requirements, you may need to beef up your skills or consider adjusting your career path.

I’ll need $30K to start, full medical, three weeks vacation, stock options and ideally a European sedan.

Never bring up salary or benefits until there is a definite job offer on the table! Naming a too-low figure could damage your bargaining position, and a too-high one could knock you out of the running.

And skip the European sedan. I think a Honda might be a better investment – mine never needs repairs!

I need just enough money to have pizza every night.

Was this in response to the instruction: “Please include your salary requirements in your cover letter”? The problem with that request is that a cover letter is no place to be talking salary already. Name too low a figure, and your negotiating position is ruined – possibly along with the employer’s opinion of your abilities. Too high, and they decide they can’t afford you.

If your qualifications are outstanding and/or you have a personal connection, you could simply ignore the request. Or try stating something like this. “I understand your concern about salary requirements. It is difficult to be specific before we have discussed the responsibilities and opportunities involved. If your needs and my abilities are a fit, I believe we’ll be able to agree on a fair compensation package.”

On the other hand, if the posting says “Applications without salary requirements will not be considered,” you might use the verbiage in the paragraph above, adding something like this: “My research on salaries for this type of position shows a range of about $80-100K for a person of my experience and skills.” (Notice that you are not committing to accepting $80K, nor are you necessarily saying you won’t ask for more!)

Is pizza really enough for a happy life? Maybe, if it’s a veggie pizza from Blondie’s in Berkeley, California. Mmmm.

If this resume doesn’t blow your hat off, then please return it in the enclosed envelope.

That’s safe enough. If the explosives didn’t go off already, they’re unlikely to detonate on the way back either.

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