Post Academic


Cover Letter Don’ts Courtesy of Gawker

PhotobucketUsually, Gawker’s salty snark is applied to celebrities and politicians, but this week it has been applied to garden-variety Hamsters who don’t know how to write a cover letter. An unfortunate Hamster looking for a job sent a cover letter to a company … which was promptly forwarded to Gawker.

Here’s an example:
DO: Explain that you’re a dedicated worker.
DON’T: “I don’t just think outside the box, I stand on top of it. I aim to appease my employer. If he/she isn’t satisfied with my work, I will sweat blood and tears until I get them the result that they are enamored with. If my employer wants me to be knowledgeable of a certain person, place or thing; I will research that particular subject until I know everything that Google, Lycos, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and Encyclopedia Britannica has to say about them/it.”

This person is probably already embarrassed enough, so we’ll just glean a few lessons from this incident. First, keep your cover letters short so you can avoid embarrassing yourself. Second, hyperbole is a no-no, especially if you claim you can do the impossible, such as literally sweating blood and tears. If you can actually do that, HR will deem you a health hazard, and you won’t get the job.

More after the jump! These serious-looking individuals are reading a cover letter, and they might be on the verge of laughter if you don’t watch it. Engraving public domain, Wikimedia Commons.

If you dare to add details, make sure your details are correct. Anyone who claims to have serious research skills is not going to list Google, etc. No HR rep will be impressed if you say you know how to Google someone. Perhaps the only person in the world who can’t work “the Google” is Larry King. If you have a fact-checking background, spit it out and then discuss what you fact-checked or researched. Don’t expose any weaknesses–say only what your skills are and how they can apply to the company.

Any other cover letter tips you’d like to share, especially if you moved from academia to the Hamster World and had to learn how to keep it short and sweet?

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3 Responses to 'Cover Letter Don’ts Courtesy of Gawker'

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  1. The best advice I’ve heard is to tailor your letter to the job, and make sure to repeat keywords found in the ad’s job description and requirements. This requires a delicate hand so you don’t sound lame or look obvious, but it helps. And in e-application environments sometimes you can’t even count on a real person reading, so it’s a good tactic to know about.


  2. I think you accurately predicted tomorrow’s post!


  3. ‘Cause I’m just that awesome :-)


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