COVER LETTERS / FEB. 12, 2016
version 12, draft 12

Does Your Cover Letter Come Across as Pompous?

arrogant pompous man
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Whether recruiters and potential employers actually read cover letters is debatable – in fact, a top recruiter on Quatz has admitted to never reading cover letters. But, the truth is that cover letters have come to be expected. Hiring managers and recruiters alike, expect job-seekers to go through the effort of doing their best to get their job application noticed, so seeing as there’s no chance to know if your hiring manager is the type who reads cover letters; it only makes sense to send one anyway – in case he does. But it’s not that you should only send a cover letter just in case, you should see your cover letter as a medium which enables you to communicate with the hiring manager more directly.

A powerful cover letter can help you win over a potential employer as it creates a connection between the two of you that the resume can’t. You can’t refer to them by name in your resume, and you can’t refer to the specific company, and you can’t explain why you want to work for them in the resume. Your cover letter also grants you the opportunity to speak about your skills, qualification and experience and explain how these directly apply to the position’s requirements. So as you see, a cover letter can help you cover more ground with a potential employer which gives you more chances to impress them and get called in for an interview.

Is Your Cover Letter Well-Balanced?

balance
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However, the key to resumes is striking a balance between confidence and humility that is always necessary in any business endeavour. This can be hard especially if you don’t have any background in writing, as you might not be quite sure how to strike this balance.  

Many cover letters end up sounding pompous exactly because they don’t succeed in achieving this balance. In wanting to promote themselves, people tend to exaggerate their benefits which make their cover letters difficult to read and silly. Needless to say, the cover letters that fail to achieve this balance, more often than not end up in the shredder.

What Makes a Cover Letter Pompous?

If you are uncertain whether you’ve been crafting pompous cover letters or not, here are a few hints. If you’ve been using fancy words just to use them then, you should stop. Using fancy words when simpler words could do the job just as well, makes you sound pretentious, an attribute that is not very attractive for a candidate.

Complex word structure could also have other negative effects. If you can use fewer words to say what you want, then there’s no need to use a more complex sentence structure. You will just be wasting the hiring manager’s time. Try to be concise and to the point, this will make the hiring manager think that you know what you are talking about and you’ll come across as a confident and experienced professional.

We are always told that we should be self-confident during our job search; however you need to be wary as this might in fact come across as pompous. Being over-confident could have the opposite result, so keep in mind that you are asking them to give you a chance. You might be worthy of the opportunity but you should never come across as a person who demands the job. Avoid saying things such as: ‘I know I will be a good match for the job’, go for a more subtle wording of your confidence such as: ‘I will be a good match for the job’.

How to Remedy the Situation

The key with crafting cover letters is to remember that hiring managers are busy people, they have tons of resumes and cover letters to go through, so respect their time and make the most of it. This means that you should try to keep it simple and short. Don’t write a historical autobiography, the hiring manager is definitely not interested in that. They just want to see that you have the skills required for the position and to convince them that you do, make sure your cover letter is conversational throughout. It should be cordial but not so much so that the hiring manager feels you are sucking up to them. Read it out loud to yourself and decide whether you’d be persuaded to buy the product being promoted (you).

Job-seekers are always under the impression that writing cover letters is time consuming, the truth however, is that so long as you keep it simple and you stick to the job description, cover letters can be easy to write and they can also get your foot in the door.

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