It’s a saying that you’ve probably heard before. However, many people don’t realize it applies to cover letters. Not that I blame them. There’s so much conflicting information out there about whether or not hiring managers even skim cover letters, let alone get to the very end of them.
Here at The Muse, we’re strong believers in the fact that you should write every cover letter as if it’s going to be read from top to bottom. Because if it is—and it likely will be—you’d hate to get tossed in the no pile because you ended with something along the lines of, “whatever, peace out.”
Obviously that’s an exaggeration (I hope!), but there are ways to end your cover letter that will get you nixed from the get-go—and they’re a lot more common than you think. So, in honor of crafting the perfect cover letter, here are three definite don’ts, as well as what to write instead.
1. “I Will Call Your Office in a Week to Schedule an Interview.”
I have no idea where this (threatening) advice originated from, but ending your cover letter like this will not give the impression that you’re a go-getter who takes initiative. It will, however, make you seem egotistical and possibly delusional. This is just not how you get an interview. You want to end by showing that you’re a pulled-together professional, not a demanding child.
“I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about how I can contribute.”
2. “Through This Position I Hope to Gain a Deeper Understanding Of…”
This sounds polite and pulled together, but it still sends the wrong message. The concluding line could be the last thought you leave with the hiring manager before he or she decides whether or not to call you in for an interview. Think about it: Do you want it to be focused on what they can do for you or what you can do for them? Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager and you’ll know it’s the latter.
“I’m excited to offer my expertise in…”
WRITING COVER LETTERS IS HARD!
So why not do yourself a favor and make it easier?
3. “I Don’t Like Writing Cover Letters and You Don’t Like Reading Them…”
Again, I don’t blame people for being frustrated about cover letters. Are they necessary or aren’t they? What else is there to talk about if you’re not supposed to write the same stuff that’s in your resume? I get it. But, oh my goodness it does not mean you should submit something like this. This supposed “straight talk” is definitely one way to get attention, but not the right kind. The job application is where you present your best self—and if this is your best self, can you blame the hiring manager for passing?
Just don’t. Write an actual cover letter. Here’s a template.
You would think sending in a cover letter is better than not sending one in at all, but if you’re just going to phone it in, you’re not doing yourself any favors. In fact, you’re probably wasting your time. So, if you want to reap all those benefits of writing one, make sure you’re giving it your best effort all the way until the end. It’s as easy as the tweaks mentioned above.
Lily Zhang serves as a Career Development Specialist at MIT where she works with a range of students from undergraduates to PhDs on how to reach their career aspirations. When she's not indulging in a new book or video game, she's thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author