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The Most Common Mistakes in Cover Letters

The Most Common Mistakes in Cover Letters

The smartest job seekers know that writing a cover letter — even if it’s not required — brings with it a bushel of benefits. And yet, if your letter doesn’t stand out, or if it makes just one of many common mistakes, it could sink your entire application.

How can you ensure that this critical document is helping rather than hurting you? By following a three-part process I call “EAR.” “EAR” means you need to answer three questions:

1. Why are you *excited* about the job?
2. Why are you *able* to do the job?
3. Why are the *right* person for the job?

Learn how to make “EAR” work for you and your career in this comprehensive workshop. We’ll study everything from your subject line to your salutation to whether you should include your letter as an attachment or in the body of the email.

Among the lessons you’ll learn:

📌 How to write to the job description.
📌 How to line up your capabilities with their requirements.
📌 How to show off not only your skills but also your personality.


Jonathan Rick

February 25, 2018


  1. After reviewing the many applications we received, yours was not

    selected for further consideration.
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  14. Instructions

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  17. Logistics

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  23. Subject Line

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  25. Opening


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  35. Body



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  56. Closing

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  60. Dear Ms. Thomas: At the University of Maryland Fall Career

    Fair, I had the opportunity to speak with a recruiter and learn about the entry-level Quality Control position available with Merck & Company, Inc. I will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics, specializing in statistics. My interest in corporate production and plant management has prompted me to contact you about this opportunity. As you can see from my résumé, my production internship with Kraft Foods last summer included valuable experience in both quality control and operations management. I have also taken many related courses, which I’m certain will provide a strong theoretical foundation for employment in this area. The University of Maryland Career Center
  61. These courses include Applied Research Methods, Business Statistics, Collective Bargaining

    and Operations Management. I have also been active in many business-related campus activities. My self- motivation and independent work ethic, along with my aptitude for statistics, make me a strong candidate for this position. I am eager to meet with you to further discuss this exciting opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you regarding next steps in the process. Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Jason Vincent The University of Maryland Career Center
  62. Bonus Tips


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  66. 3 Reasons Why You Should Hire Me Jonathan Rick

  67. 3 Reasons Why You Should Hire Me Dear Mr. Seaborn,

    The DCCC job board says you’re looking for a contract speechwriter. I’d love to help! In lieu of a traditional cover letter, here are the top three things you should know about me: 1. I’m a freelance speechwriter, based just outside Washington, D.C., who’s been helping people polish their words for 15 years. 2. My work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, Politico, Fast Company, HuffPost, and many more. 3. I promise each client these three things. Jonathan Rick
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  69. Dear Mr. Jones, My name is Matthew Ross, and I

    am an undergraduate finance student at San Diego State University. I met you the summer before last at Smith & Wollensky’s in New York when I was touring the east coast with my uncle, Sam Ross. I just wanted thank you for taking the time to talk to me that night. I am writing you to inquire about a possible summer internship in your office. I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like SDSU to intern at Duff & Phelps, but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception. I am extremely interested in investment banking and would love nothing more than to learn under your tutelage. I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing. In all honesty, I just want to be around professionals in the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can. Matthew Ross, Page 1
  70. I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around

    exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line of crapp about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly with an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you. I’ve interned at Merrill Lynch in the Wealth Management Division and taken an investment banking class at SDSU, for whatever that is worth. I am currently awaiting admission results for SDSU’s Masters of Science in Accountancy program, which I would begin this fall if admitted. I am also planning on attending law school after my master’s program, which we spoke about in New York. I apologize for the blunt nature of my letter, but I hope you seriously consider taking me under your wing this summer. I have attached my resume for your review. Feel free to call me at (123) 456-7890 or email me at Thank you for your time. Matthew Ross, Page 2
  71. Dear Sir: I like words. I like fat buttery words,

    such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demimonde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. Robert Pirosh, Page 1
  72. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker,

    genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble, and burp. I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around. I have just returned and I still like words. May I have a few with you? — Robert Pirosh Robert Pirosh, Page 2

  74. Why should I hire you?

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  77. Congratulations! We are pleased to confirm you have been selected

    to work for the Department of Defense.