Very few job opportunities do not require a cover letter. Cover letters are a must-have in the application process because they give you an opportunity to showcase your skills beyond the traditional resume.
Each part of your cover letter reveals something important to potential employers — whether you want the job or not. And unfortunately for some job seekers, not all of the revelations are positive.
Take a look at some examples of real-life cover letter sentences that don’t quite make the cut in the competitive hiring landscape.
1. “My skills and experience are an excellent fit for this position.”
At the beginning of every cover letter, state the position you’re applying to. Then describe exactly how your skills and experience are a good fit.
Employers are not interested in applicants who will jump at just any job. They want applicants who have their eyes on the open position and who have relevant experience. By generically stating you’d be a great fit for the position, you admit to hiring managers that you haven’t taken the time to find the specific job title, review the qualifications or think about how your specific skill set meshes with the role.
To avoid this perception, be specific.
Your initial statement should sound something like this: “With ten years of experience in the stock market, I am seeking a position as a day trader with ABC Investments.” This shows you actually care about the particular position and took the time to research the job title and customize your cover letter.
2. “I have been looking for an opportunity to work in this industry.”
Employers want to hire someone who cares about their company, not someone who finds all companies in a particular industry interchangeable.
Don’t wait for the interview to show you’ve done your homework. For example, when applying for a store manager position at Jamba Juice, a statement like, “I have a dedicated work ethic and years of experience as a chef,” doesn’t work. Jamba Juice is known for hiring upbeat, energetic employees. The business specializes in smoothies — not French cuisine.
Instead think about how your past experience applies specifically to Jamba Juice.
If you write a cover letter specific to an industry and not a particular company, you’re wasting an opportunity to show your passion for this specific company — something hiring managers look for.
3. “Thank you for taking the time to read my resume.”
Studies show that people who ask for raises are more likely to get them. The same concept is true in your job application. Ending a cover letter with a request for an interview will lead to more job offers.
Weak closing messages like, “Thank you for your time,” or “I hope to talk with you soon,” give the hiring manager a choice: To call you back, or not to call you back. Asking for an interview creates the impetus for the hiring manager to at least call back in response to your application.
Address your cover letter to a specific person. Look up the name of the hiring manager or human resource manager before you send it off. If the company website does not list the hiring manager’s name, call the business directly. You’ll show a heightened level of interest and indicate you’re serious about this job.
4. “I am an experienced, goal-oriented team player.”
Hiring managers read cover letters all day long. They are used to reading the same words and phrases in each letter. If you write a cover letter with the generic format, you express you’re a generic candidate who didn’t put much thought into how your experience or goal orientation fits in with the role.
Resumes and cover letters should show personal qualities, not tell about them. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
Instead, think about writing statements like this: “I served as the COO of Plant Pharmaceuticals for ten years. During that time, I managed a team of 50 people and set aggressive revenue goals. Last year, our executive team wanted to increase departmental revenue by three percent, but I was able to bring in an additional six percent by introducing an innovative social media strategy that drove over 100,000 new sales.”
The last statement shows all of the same generic qualities, but backs them up with actual facts.
5. “I’m everything that you’re looking for… and more!”
Job postings often include keywords that show what the company wants in an employee. These keywords represent skill sets that are important because they can be used in your cover letter.
Incorporated these keywords into your cover letter so that hiring managers — and more importantly, applicant tracking systems — will better understand that you have the necessary talents and pay attention to each detail.
If a job posting requests an employee who is punctual and willing to learn new skills, you should incorporate these two attributes in your cover letter. This instantly shows that you understand the needs of the position.
6. “I look forward to you’re response.”
It sounds crazy, but spelling and punctuation are common cover letter problems. In a recent study by Grammarly, we learned there are five errors on a typical cover letter or resume. The top mistakes include verb tense, hyphen use, formatting and careless spelling mistakes (words that are spelled correctly but used in the wrong context).
Before sending your resume or cover letter, always spell check and proofread your document first. Better yet, have a grammar-minded friend do it for you. Misspellings, typos and errors show you lack attention to detail.
A cover letter is one of the first pieces of information a hiring manager receives about you. Many hiring managers use your cover letter to read between the lines and figure out what type of person you are. This piece of paper will determine if you get an interview or not.
So what do you want your cover letter to portray? That you’re careless, generic and arrogant? Or that you’re meticulous, dedicated and passionate? Although the interview will ultimately determine if you are hired, your cover letter is your secret password to make it to the interview.
Max Lytvyn, co-founder and head of product strategy for Grammarly, drives the future direction and technical integration of Grammarly’s product portfolio. Connect with Max, the Grammarly team and more than one million Grammarly Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/grammarly.
Sample Cover Letter for Job Application With Writing Tips
The following is an example of a letter of application sent with a resume to apply for a job. Use this example as a guideline when writing your own job application cover letters. Also see below for an example a job application letter sent by email and tips for what to include and how to write a letter to apply for a job.
Your job application letter is an opportunity to highlight your most relevant qualifications and experiences, enhancing your resume, and increasing your chances of being called for an interview.
Your letter should detail your specific qualifications for the position and the skills you would bring to the employer. See below for how to email your application letter.
What to Include in Your Letter
As with all cover letters, the body of this job application letter is divided into three sections: the introduction, which details why the applicant is writing; the body, which discusses relevant qualifications; and the closing, which thanks the reader and provides contact information and follow-up details.
Sample Job Application Letter
8 Sue Circle
Smithtown, CA 08067
87 Delaware Road
Hatfield, CA 08065
Dear Mr. Gilhooley,
I am writing to apply for the programmer position advertised in the Times Union. As requested, I am enclosing a completed job application, my certification, my resume, and three references.
The opportunity presented in this listing is very interesting, and I believe that my strong technical experience and education will make me a very competitive candidate for this position. The key strengths that I possess for success in this position include:
- I have successfully designed, developed, and supported live use applications
- I strive for continued excellence
- I provide exceptional contributions to customer service for all customers
With a BS degree in Computer Programming, I have a full understanding of the full lifecycle of a software development project. I also have experience in learning and excelling at new technologies as needed.
Please see my resume for additional information on my experience.
I can be reached anytime via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or my cell phone, 909-555-5555.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you about this employment opportunity.
Signature (for hard copy letter)
Sample Email Letter of Application
Subject: FirstName LastName - Web Content Manager Position
Dear Contact Person:
I'm writing to express my interest in the Web Content Manager position listed on Monster.com. I have experience building large, consumer-focused health-based content sites. While much of my experience has been in the business world, I understand the social value of the non-profit sector and my business experience will be an asset to your organization.
My responsibilities included the development and management of the site's editorial voice and style, the editorial calendar, and the daily content programming and production of the website.
I worked closely with healthcare professionals and medical editors to help them provide the best possible information to a consumer audience of patients. Also, I helped physicians learn to utilize their medical content to write user-friendly, readily comprehensible text.
Experience has taught me how to build strong relationships with all departments at an organization. I have the ability to work within a team as well as cross-team. I can work with web engineers to resolve technical issues and implement technical enhancements, work with the development department to implement design and functional enhancements, and monitor site statistics and conduct search engine optimization.
Thank you for your consideration.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Tips for Writing a Strong Application Letter
Follow these strategies to write a strong letter:
- Get off to a direct start: In your first paragraph, explain simply why you are writing. Mention the job title and company name, and also where you came across the job listing. While you can also briefly mention why you are a strong candidate, this section should be short and to-the-point.
- Offer something different than what's in your resume: It's rare to send an application letter without also sending a resume. Your application letter, therefore, doesn't have to duplicate your resume. Your language can be a bit more personal than in resume bullet points — you can tell a narrative about your work experience and career.
- Make a good case. Your first goal with this letter is to move on to the next step: an interview. Your overarching goal, of course, is to get a job offer. Use your application letter to further both of these causes. Offer details about your experience and background that show why you are a good candidate. How have other jobs prepared you for the position? What would you bring to the position, and to the company? Use this space to emphasize your strengths.
- Close with all the important details. Include a thank you at the end of your letter. You can also share your contact information. If you'd like, mention how you will follow up.
How to Send an Email Application Letter
If you're sending your cover letter via email, list your name and the job title in the subject line of the email message. Include your contact information in your email signature, but don't list the employer's contact information. Skip the date, and start your email message with the salutation. Here's an example of a formatted email cover letter.
How to Write a Job Application Letter
Here's how to write a letter of application for a job, including what should be included in the letter, choosing a font size and style, and letter spacing and formatting.