A mediocre cover letter is a lukewarm version of the example you saw earlier. Instead of a conversation with a fascinating person, the mediocre cover letter is a ho-hum dialog with a supermarket cashier, for example. You’re not really interested in each other, but you’re expected to be polite. We all know what it’s like to make small talk – it’s not necessarily unpleasant, but it’s not exactly the most exciting way to spend our time, either. It’s filler.
Here’s a letter that recently came across my desk. (I changed the names to protect my client’s identity.)
November 2, 2005
Dear Mr. Johnson,
My friend, Scott Smith, who works for you, told me your company, Springfield Technologies, is looking for a software engineer. Well, I’m a software engineer and I’m looking for a job. I think I’d be great for this position. I majored in computer science at college and did pretty well, if I do say so myself.
I was recently employed at a start-up company in Seattle, but I was laid off, unfortunately, because the company went under. I still have many skills to offer and know that I can do a good job for you and your company.
Things are pretty slow for me right now so I could come in for an interview whenever. It’s up to you. I think I would be a great addition to your team and I hope you think so too. (Please look over my resume, which I’m enclosing.)
Nothing in this letter says that Mr. Davey is not qualified for the job, but nothing says he is qualified either. He’s doing a poor job of selling himself as a “must-have” employee. This letter is too casual, too vague, a bit arrogant, and too desperate. It doesn’t prove Mr. Davey’s skill at software engineering. Worst of all, it breaks the number one rule of successful cover letter writing: it doesn’t mirror back the employer’s needs and wants! If I were Mr. Johnson, I’d discard this letter and keep on looking.
If you send your potential employer a mediocre cover letter, it’s like bumping into him in the hallway and having to trade niceties for five minutes. You can show that you’re pleasant to talk to â€“ but so are dozens of other applicants in that tall pile of envelopes.
The employer might suspect you can do the job you’re applying for, but he probably won’t give you the chance to prove it.
That’s the problem with second-rate cover letters: they might show that you’re qualified, but they don’t specify the value you’ll bring to the company.
To get the interview and job you want, you have to stand out from the crowd! There are going to be dozens, hundreds, possibly thousands of people competing for your dream job, depending on location and the company’s scope. You won’t have a shot if you blend in with everyone else.
Throughout this guide, I’m going to show you how to set yourself apart with your unique qualities. By the time we’re through, you’ll know how to grab the employer’s attention the way the best-in-class job-hunters do.
Karen Silins has been a professional resume and cover letter writer for 16 years and is the acting president and executive board member of the Association of Online Resume & Career Professionals
More Cover Letter Examples
- A Nicely Written Cover Letter Example
- A Badly Written Cover Letter Example
- A Simple, Good Looking Cover Letter Template