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Dear MissCareerless… Your Private Job Coach ANSWERS

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Dear MissCareerless,

Thank you for being the first one to contribute to this brand new column by sending us your cover letter! This really appreciated act of trust and sharing will help you and the other readers get a better grasp of how to write the best cover letter.

So let’s see what we have here… A Motivational Letter of a Program Coordinator:

Mind the mind’s eye

From your cover letter, I have definitely learnt several things about you that are useful to assess whether you are a suitable candidate for the job or not. What strikes me the most though is, that not only after the first, the second, or the third line of your cover letter you haven’t yet introduced yourself, but that you even waited for the closing formula “Yours sincerely” to finally let the reader know who is writing!

This is such a missed chance to let the recruiter or hiring manager remember you. In the career quest, visual memory is on your side, so try to make the best out of it. Since it’s easier to forget something you have heard than something you have read, make sure your name is written on every page of your CV, files names and of course at the very beginning of your letter. This will give you a better chance to have your name borne in mind by the recruiter.

Know thyself

Your cover letter gives away you are struggling with defining who you are and describing what exactly your job is. But here is what: it is more common and more forgivable than you think.

I bet it has happened to all of us at least once to hear of a certain job title and think “Yes, but what do you actually do?” The job market continuously changes and we can’t always keep up with it. Job seekers often get frustrated and end up either avoiding finding an effective description or get stuck with an elevator pitch that just can’t fit every occasion. So let’s try to turn this vicious circle into a virtuous one.

Have you ever considered job titles may be self-limiting? If the walls around you are too close, build them down. The fact you don’t hold a business card with a one word job title doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself the validation people look for from being employed. And the best part is that you can shape your own description according to the audience and job post you are referring to, stressing out a side or another of your professional and educational background.

Be honest to yourself and find out what you know how to do better than everyone else you know and who you are even if you didn’t need to work for a living anymore for your entire life. And when it comes to cover letters, the golden rule – as for the name – is to state it immediately. As for you, Miss Careerless, you only mention you are a researcher from a scientific background with ten published articles in the fifth paragraph. That is far too late to introduce yourself!  And this leads me to another cover letters common mistake…

Going to great lengths

Dear, your cover letter is too long. While I appreciate you don’t make the usual mistake to create a cover letter that is no more than a summary of your CV, I must say it is unlikely that anyone will keep reading for more than a page.

Recruiters or hiring managers want to be convinced at first glance. If they do read the whole letter, it is because their attention was caught by the first few lines and so they are interested in reading more. This usually happens by the first 30 seconds read. After that, they have probably given up finding out if your “story” gets more interesting towards the end. According to my experience, a half to one page cover letter is enough. But, hey, if the content of your cover letter is weak, as the saying goes…size won’t matter.


Do you have a cover letter/motivational letter you want feedback on?

Don’t be shy; let us help you: Send us your letter with #GetHired in the subject line and let us do the rest!



Alessandra Marino
Alessandra Marino is an Italian writer and translator. She has lived four years in China, mainly working in the communication and media field. There she also spent one year as a recruiter, and found that most of the people who are trying to get their way into the right career path have trouble taking the first step to make their name known out there: describing who they are. Alessandra has also worked as a communication trainee at the European Commission and she is now living in Italy where she helps people putting in words what they need to succeed.

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