What a boss thinks about a cover letter
1. We get that you’re self-assured and self-actualized. We see that you’re smart and dedicated. We know you want To Make a Difference. Wonderful! But we are not the college admissions office or the scholarship committee. We are a professional organization. We expect a different type of letter.
2. Most letters we get are variations of “Please hire me; I need a job.” Oh, the letters are not that blunt. They’re usually couched in flowery language and multi-syllabic superlatives extolling your virtuous upbringing and commitment to truth, justice and the American way. But the underlying “hire me” theme won’t distinguish your letter from the 100 others on our application stack.
3. Your letter should be about us, not you. Show us that you know details about us and our needs. And by “know,” we don’t mean “shamelessly flatter.” Give specifics that show you know changes we’re making or need to make. Do your research. Prove that you are a journalist by researching us and our current needs.
4. Proclaiming how much you want this job or how dedicated you would be means nothing. We know you want the job. We don’t care that you really, really want it. We care only whether you can contribute to our organization. Do you have the skills we need?
5. In determining whether you can contribute to our organization, we look for evidence, not assertions. Don’t tell us that you know HTML. Show us that you have used HTML to build or improve a website. Don’t tell us that you want to make the world a better place. Describe how you wrote an investigative story that led to an improvement. Don’t tell us that you’re a great proofreader. Show us by taking a copy of our publication and edit a few selections to improve the writing or create better headlines.
6. In summary, if you want your cover letter to stand out in the crowd, it should do two things: