How many times have you reached this moment? You’re almost ready to submit your CV to that organization for that dream position, only to realize, “Cover letter! I need a cover letter.”
I’ll bet more than once. Oh, it happened to me a couple of times before I learnt my lesson. Or, if you are super lucky and it hasn’t happened to you, I’m guessing you still find it a chore sitting down and hammering out a new cover letter for each role that you pursue.
And, because you forget about it, were too busy, dreaded writing it, or procrastinated till the 11th hour, I’m betting you’ve hammered one (or many) out that include at least a few “say nothing” lines.
I don’t think you want to “say nothing” in your cover letter.
Because, in spite of popular opinion by naysayers who shake their fists and wildly proclaim, “The cover letter is dead!” or “No one’s going to read that thing!” “Don’t bother with a cover letter” the fact of the matter is this—a brilliantly written, on-point, and memorable cover letter can (and very well may) help you clinch the interview.
If you realized how many boring and cliché, cover letters are circulating on the planet this very minute, you’d understand what a huge opportunity you have in writing a killer one. No one expects them, true, but when a recruiter comes across a brilliant one? It’s golden.
You want to craft a remarkable cover letter? For starters, you have to kill these cover letter cliché lines:
1. “I Believe I Am Uniquely Qualified for This Position”
Unless you’re a 5’11 blue-eyed model who speaks Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and dances salsa and ballet—and happen to be applying for a position as a blue-eyed model (who, ideally speaks, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa and dances salsa and ballet), then chances are you are not, in fact, uniquely qualified for that job. By definition, “unique” means the only one. So unless you know for sure that you’re the only person who is entering that race with qualifications like yours, ditch that line. And, without a doubt, don’t even think about “I’m very uniquely qualified.” That’s both ridiculous, redundant and cliché.
2. “Here Is What I’m Looking For”
So many job seekers go on and on and on about what their career or life goals are in the cover letter. Newsflash! Employers are not YET interested in your dreams and aspiration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to suggest your dreams and aspirations don’t matter. They most definitely do. But potential employers don’t yet care what you want out of this deal. I know this sound heartless, but stay with me here. You’re applying to work for a business that has a business need. They’re not out hunting for a perfect candidate whose dreams they can fulfill. They’re looking to solve a problem, expand operations, cut costs, drive revenue, and so forth.
Thus, if you center your cover letter on everything you’re looking for at the expense of showcasing what you can deliver, you’re not only wasting space—you’re throwing away an opportunity to show how and why you make perfect sense for that job. And the good news? Your next employer will care what you want out of the deal—after you’ve proven yourself a valuable employee.
See also: CV Dos and Don’ts (1)
3. “While I Don’t Have….”
I am mystified at the amount of apologizing that goes on in cover letters. If you think you don’t deserve the job then why are you even applying for the job; if you’re going to spend half the time pointing out what you lack instead of showcasing what (specifically) you can contribute as their next hire, then you might as well forget the job. If you lack a ‘mandatory’ qualification or skill set—such as a Masters in a particular discipline or a required industry certification—no amount of apologizing is going to save you. On the contrary, if it’s not an essential qualification, why put the spotlight on your shortcomings? Instead, shift that beam right on over to the stuff you know you’ll do well on their behalf.
It’s so easy to get rolling in job search and approach the “apply for job” process like an assembly line worker. But your goal here is to entice a decision maker to the point of wanting to interview you, not to see how many blah cover letters you can robotically crank out into the system.
Take time to showcase why, specifically, you want to work for that company. Outline quickly how and why you will be a great asset to the organization, in that particular role. And be original and engaging. Remember—there are humans involved here.
And we as humans, we love a good read.
Check Out Amazing Companies Hiring Now on Ngcareers.3 Cover Letter Lines You Should Ditch Now! by Stellamaris Obomanu