Eight Things About Your Cover Letter or Resume that Will Not Get You This Job

Hi all. Remember me? I used to write posts for this blog pretty regularly. But about a month ago I got promoted at work, which was awesome. And then I got really, really busy at work, which was less awesome. And that’s when I stopped having any time to get irritated about the world and write blogs about it and its sweater-vested presidential candidates.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however, in the form of two new employees that I hired. This was the first time I had ever gone through the hiring process, and it gave me new insight into our unemployment problem. The positions I was looking to fill were entry level, and I realized that our colleges may be far more to blame for the plight of the Wall Street Occupiers than the recession. You see, I don’t think many graduating college seniors have ever been taught to write a cover letter that does not make them sound insane. And honestly, that seems like a way more practical skill than Algebra.

But I’m here to help. Below are eight things you may currently be doing in your cover letter or resume that are definitely going to put you in the “no” column.

Note: I am not using anyone’s verbatim cover letters for this, but I assure you that each is very much in the spirit of what I received.

8. You are applying for a writing job, but you use punctuation…sparingly. 

ALMOST all the qualities I’m looking for. I’m also looking for commas.

7. You threaten the job of the person hiring you.

Not funny.

6. You write your cover letter in all caps.

Yelling: The oldest form of marketing

5. You do not give any indication that you know what the job for which you are applying is.

I can assure you that there is no mention that “must be a people person” or “popular in high school” are requirements for the position. I certainly never would have gotten the job if either was the case.

4. You send both your cover letter and resume multiple times – and to everyone in the company.

This is just a very solid understanding of how the world works.

3. Your eagerness takes on an “I will wear your skin” tone.

Yes, I would love to interview you, but what I’m a little afraid you’re made of is chloroform and shivs. This feels a little too Talented Mr. Ripley for my taste.

2. You ask and answer questions about yourself.

While I do appreciate the vaudeville tone, this style always makes me instantly picture the candidate as a schizophrenic.

1. Your email address is stupid.

How much cheaper do email addresses need to be than free before people will get a new one?

Tips for How You Do Get the Job:

So that I am not seen as completely unhelpful, here are some actual, non-sarcastic tips about what you might want to do to get to the interview stage.

  • Proofread your cover letter and resume before sending. Duh, but do it anyway.
  • Avoid cliches. Sure, you’re “passionate” about this work and a “people person.” So is literally every other person.
  • Don’t B.S. too much. If you don’t have experience doing that exact thing, it’s OK to talk about something similar, but make sure it’s actually relevant. No one is going to believe that graphic design is just like being a sandwich artist at Subway.
  • Remove unrelated experience from your resume. If the only thing you’ve done is go to college, where you attended class and played football, there is no reason your resume should be three pages long.
  • Keep trying. This is the truest advice I have. As many insane and totally unqualified candidates applied, I also received a lot of applications from really talented individuals. Individuals who I would not have beaten out for this job six years ago. So just know that if you’re not getting interviews, then as long as you’re not making any of the crazy mistakes above it’s probably because there are so many incredibly qualified candidates. But as things turn around, you sane, qualified people will get snapped up quick. And then it’ll just be down to the people who can be reached at vodkashots6583@msn.com and yourmom@aol.com.
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One Response to Eight Things About Your Cover Letter or Resume that Will Not Get You This Job

  1. The examples you provide make it easy to understand what not to include in a cover letter. I’d like to point out that value proposition letters are more effective than regular cover letters because they focus on a candidates qualifications for a specific job. We recently posted a guide http://academy.justjobs.com/the-value-proposition-letter/ that discusses this, and also provide a blue print to help job seekers write their own proposition letters. I hope it’s useful. – Erich

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