Does the last paragraphs of a cover letters ever not sound insincere?
February 5, 2019 7:18 PM   Subscribe

So two years ago you all gave me advice on a job search, now I'm looking for advice on a search for a better job. The thing is, I despise cover letters - even the examples I find on line of "spectacular" cover letters seem like they have one foot in insincere and the other in insipid. But I'm slogging through and I'm to that last paragraph...and everything I type seems awful to me. Tell me about the cover letter that sang to you. Help me stop overthinking this plate of beans.
posted by Sid and Marty Krofft's HR Sockpuppet to Work & Money (12 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I usually do a paragraph on why I’m interested in the job, a paragraph on why I’d be a good fit, and close with something like, “I hope to have the chance to meet with you in person.” Maybe not super exciting, but totally sincere.

Recently having been on my first hiring committee, the cover letters that “sang to me” were the ones that used reasonably good grammar and spelling (for a mid level professional position) and didn’t seem to overinflate the writer’s credentials. Really, really top notch we’re the ones that didn’t show a clear misunderstanding of the job description.

In other words, don’t get too hung up on this.
posted by Kriesa at 7:33 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]

I just looked up the cover letter I used to apply for my current job. My last paragraph was all of a single sentence:

In closing, I'm excited by the opportunity to apply to work at ___, and would love the chance to learn more about this role.

I don't know if that's cheesy or not, but I was wholly sincere in the sentiment, and it let me focus my overthinking on *other* plates of beans.

Good luck!
posted by Metasyntactic at 7:35 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]

If you write something you believe, it can't be insincere.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:36 PM on February 5

The third paragraph should just be a simple "I'd love to meet with you to discuss what I could bring to the X role at Ycorp. Email, text and phone details are all listed above. I look forward to speaking with you."
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:45 PM on February 5

What Kriesa said - I want the applicant to tell me why they want the position and how their background fits the job description I posted. Preferably in one page. Preferably spelling my name correctly. I don't pay much attention to the closing.
posted by debgpi at 7:48 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]

I hate cover letters with a fiery passion. If you want to know my work history, read my resume. If you want to know how I write, ask for a writing sample. They're formulaic and they often feel like a bit of sadism (please spend half an hour convincing me to read your resume for a job you may not even know the salary for!) but...they're unavoidable. It's best to accept that, yes, they are a hoop to jump through and then do your best to write them along the lines of the formula you've discovered reading examples. Try to write them to your best standard so you won't feel like you half-assed it, and recognize that the people reading them are probably looking for something less inspiring than you're imagining, and let it go.
posted by Smearcase at 8:43 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]

I agree with the others on what I'm looking for -- interest, fit, grammar. I won't hold superlatives or jargon against you (much) unless they make up the bulk of the letter or there's some jarring disconnect between your resume and cover letter.
posted by sm1tten at 8:57 PM on February 5

Came here to recommend AskAManager's blog. My favorite piece of advice from her is that your cover letter should be written like you're telling a friend why you're so excited for the job. You'd have a somewhat conversational tone, you'd talk about the ways it's a totally perfect fit for your experience, etc. I do think any cover letter is going to be a bit awkward, no matter how good it is, but that's just because for most of us it's awkward to spend a page writing mostly about how great we are.
posted by jouir at 9:57 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]

Ask a Manager has this covered. - And the author has written this article on what she believes a cover letter should be trying to achieve and why. Briefly, a great cover letter should reveal the kind of position-relevant personality details that cannot be properly summarised in a resume. The opening and close of the letter are not a core part of this goal - so the best strategy is to keep them very simple. The author would suggest something like this:

"Thank you for consideration, and I hope to speak soon.
Yours sincerely
Sid and Marty Krofft's HR Sockpuppet
posted by rongorongo at 10:23 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]

I am not a professional resume/cover letter writer but I do this for friends and they always get the job! My template for a cover letter is 3 paragraphs:

The first paragraph is simply introducing yourself. Keep it super short and mirror the tone of the job description.

The second paragraph is a mini-resume of your soft skills (your hard skills being in your main resume, obviously). This is where you pay close attention to the cultural aspects of the job description, for example, do they emphasize team work or do they emphasize independent work. Pay special attention to their frustrations, for example, if they are seeking someone who can juggle priorities, that's a frustration so show-don't-tell how you are good at juggling priorities.

The third paragraph is your classic sales close, after all, you are selling yourself here. So you explicitly ask for the sale and propose next steps e.g. "I would love to set up an interview. I am available [times you are available]."

Good luck in your job search!
posted by rada at 6:46 AM on February 6

You'd have a somewhat conversational tone, you'd talk about the ways it's a totally perfect fit for your experience, etc.

This is a good cover letter in my experience. Conversational and natural, no Sirs or Maams or To Who It May Concerns, just introduce yourself, and explain why you're interested in the position/company, and how your background aligns with that. Then say thanks, you're looking forward to setting up some time to chat more to find out if it's a good fit.
posted by so fucking future at 8:30 AM on February 6

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