Your Generic Cover Letter as Experienced by a Hiring Manager, with Jenny Foss

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Your cover letter is one of the most important elements of your application—perhaps as important as your resume. This is where you outline your passion for the position and make the case for why you are the best candidate for the job.

Unfortunately, too many job seekers undervalue and underthink their cover letter. Sometimes they fail to include a cover letter in their application. More often—but equally detrimental—they use the same generic cover letter for all their applications.

This simply doesn’t cut it.

On this bonus episode of Find Your Dream Job, Jenny Foss, founder of Job Jenny, shares how your generic cover letter reads to a hiring manager.  Her entertaining, “what-not-to-write” cover letter hits home with insights on how you can improve your own cover letter right away.

When you read your cover letter from a hiring manager’s point of view it starts to read differently than when you are reading it for yourself. Jenny reminds us not to regurgitate the content of our resumes into our cover letters and to not waste the hiring manager’s time with worn out cliches like “detail-oriented” and “proven track record.”


Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want and make a difference in life.

I’m Mac Prichard, founder and publisher of Mac’s List. On today’s bonus episode, we’re sharing exclusive content from Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. It’s our new book that was published February 1, 2017. For 15 years at Mac’s List, we’ve helped people find meaningful, well-paying work in Portland, Oregon, one of the country’s most competitive job markets.

Now, we put all of our best job hunting advice in one new book that can help you no matter where you live. Land Your Dream Job Anywhere also includes advice from many of the national career experts who have appeared on our podcast. Today, we’re sharing one of these features exclusively with you, our podcast listeners.

Here is Jenny Foss, owner of reading her contribution, “Your Generic Cover Letter as Experienced by a Hiring Manager.”

Jenny Foss:

Hi, this is Jenny Foss. I’m the founder of the career blog and strategic consultancy, And I’m going to be reading my contribution, Your Generic Cover Letter as Experienced by a Hiring Manager:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am applying for your open job with this generic, form-looking cover letter. It is in 12-point Times Roman, with perfect one-inch margins around all sides.

I should probably warn you in advance that this letter will paralyze you with boredom and tell you virtually nothing new about me. In fact, I’m going to reiterate exact phrases from my resume, just in case you missed them over there.

I’m also going to pad this thing generously with a bunch of empty, overused clichés, including “detail oriented,” “outside-the-box” and “proven track record.” I may even throw in the term “very unique” because what’s better than being unique? You got that right—being VERY unique. Which is me. (I’m sure you can already tell this from the letter, right?)

I’m guessing you’re going to know in an instant that I am currently wallpapering the universe with this same letter (cut and paste is such a magical thing, don’t you think?). But I’m very, very busy, so this is the only practical way someone so very unique (and busy) as I can go about this job search thing. I’m sure you’ll understand.

Throughout this letter, I will also use a terse, robotic tone that will give you zero indication of my personality. It’s my fun little way of challenging you to figure out on your own if I’m going to fit in around the place once you hire me, which I’m sure you will.

Oh yes, before I go further, let me tell you what I want in my next job. In fact, let me outline in detail what I want throughout my career, just so you know that I expect frequent accolades, raises, and promotions should I join your organization. You are hanging on the edge of your seat wondering how you can meet my needs, yes?

Finally, I will go off on a strange, irrelevant tangent that leaves you wondering why I even dropped those two sentences into this letter. This is my attempt at standing out.

Thank you, sir, for your consideration. I look forward to meeting you soon.


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