Anyone want to help me with a cover letter or twenty?

As a quasi-extension of this thread, where I am lamenting the fact I will never get a decent job, I have started this thread to try to remedy that. I have applied to dozens and dozens of jobs over the past few years, and barely any of them even wrote me back to say “sorry.” It’s a combination of my resume, which I can do nothing about (you can’t put down experience you don’t have,) and my shitty, shitty cover letters. They come off like something a five-year old would write. They look like this:

Dear [company],

I saw your ad for [job title.] I would like this job. I like your company, you do neat things. I am skilled for this job because I graduated from college like everyone else applying for the job too, but also I worked for a couple years doing something that’s barely tangentially related. Hire me please, lol.

I just don’t know what to say, or how to say enough. If I tried, I could make it sound nice and professional…for a whopping one paragraph. How do I get a whole fucking letter out of it? I know one suggestion is to list the skills they say they want, and then list how you meet those skills with my education/experience. Well, as I said, I have almost no experience, and (essentially) the same damn education everyone else who’s applying has. Plus, a good 75% of the jobs list skills I don’t have, so sure, maybe I can list the two I do meet, but they might get suspicious when the other five skills/experiences they are looking for are absent.

As proof of my inept-ness, here is an actual letter I wrote just now:

bouv, you are facing difficult enough challenges without mentally hammering yourself into a hole so that they look even worse than they are. (I say this after having just posted to your other thread.) I say that because the stupid cover letter you first post as illustrative of your abilities (“I would like this job; you do neat things”) does not reflect that real cover letter you propose to send, which actually is pretty decent. So please stop tearing yourself down like that; it’s not warranted and it makes it harder to believe in you, because you seem so invested in not believing in yourself. As to your cover letter, my remarks in bold:

There ya go.

First of all, NEVER EVER even allude to anything negative about your experience or your education in your cover letter or resume. This is your chance to sell yourself so don’t mention your lack of experience, mention your drive and excellent people skills.

Second, the good part about a cover letter is that it allows you to expand a bit on your resume. Great with people? Fast learner? Put it in the cover letter! Also this is the place to prove you have done some research on the company. For example, if you are applying for a position with a company and you see that their website mentions that the company was founded in 1913 and that President Taft was the VP of the company after his term in office mention how much you would love to work for such a stable company that has employed such an esteemed individual as former President Taft.

This is the first thing the company sees so make sure it is positive, spelled correctly, and shows that you know something about the company you are contacting.

That doesn’t look so bad. I would avoid drawing attention to you shortcomings (first sentence, second paragrah) and just focus on what strengths and experience you do have. In my experience, job descriptions are something of a wish list. Many employers are willing to sacrifice a few items on the list if you are strong in some of the others. Just keep it to a few paragraphs outlining your most pertinent experience. I’d also tone down stuff like “ideal match” and “unique perspective.” Maybe “excellent match” and “experienced perspective.”

Also, I wouldn’t obsess too much about the cover letter. I think it is sort of a dying breed. Some companies don’t even ask for one–they just want to cut to the resume. Finally, don’t be afraid to put in training or experience with things that aren’t in the job description, but might be useful in general.

Good luck and don’t let it get you down. I found it useful during my last lay-off just to set a goal to get a certain number of applications out or letters written or research done every day. Then stop and put it behind you, like you would a regular job. The problem with graduate school is that you always feel like there is more work to be done (there is) and down time is “wasted time.” That, as you know, leads to burnout very quickly.

I’ve received an interview for every job I’ve ever applied for - even those I wasn’t remotely qualified for, based on my cover letters.

Now that the creditials/bragging are out of the way, I would modify your letter as such:

Good luck!

Alright, I guess the first sentence of the second paragraph seems like it’s describing my shortcomings, but it’s not…it’s describing the shortcomings of other possible applicants. I have a degree in biomedical engineering, and the positions at company XYZ all listed the desired degrees to be mechanical, electrical, or biomedical. So I’m trying to make the other guys look bad, but I guess it just comes off as making myself possibly look bad.

And alice_in_wonderland, I don’t know if I CAN get a name…It’s a completely online application process (through their website, not monster or careerbuilder or anythihng) and basically I apply for as many jobs as I clicked on in the job search. There are about five or six different ones, all over the country, so each one could possibly have a different HR person. And since all the jobs use the same cover letter, it would be odd to put a name in.

Ah. Well, I would probably sir/madam it then.

I meant to add that it may not be the hiring manager that reviews your letter - depending on the company it could be the COO, the Head of HR or the janitor - I would leave it a bit more open (that’s just me though)

While you’re on this topic, when lacking a name is it better to address to Sir/Madam rather than “To Whom It May Concern?”

“Sir/Madam” “To Whom It May Concern” is appropriate only when dictating a deathbed confession.


Believe it or not, it’s slightly more personal than “TWIMC”.

Huh…I did not know about “Sir/Madam.” That is to say, I didn’t know that was the preferred way to address it if one couldn’t get a name. And I always knew “To Whom it May Concern” sounds WAY to…something.. I guess too impersonal?

Anyway, thanks for the help, and we’ll see how this job search goes…

I’ve used “To Whom It May Concern” and have gotten a good number of interviews with a much drier letter than alice’s. Hmmm.