June 8, 2015

Avoiding Unnecessary Repetition in Your Cover Letter

JumperIs your cover letter a wasted opportunity?

Too often, cover letters bring nothing new or relevant to the table. In fact, according to career expert J.T. O’Donnell, half of recruiters don’t even read them!

“When [recruiters] open a cover letter, if they skim it and see it’s just a repetition of what is already in the resume, they skip reading it,” O’Donnell warns.

So how can you make sure your letter doesn’t end up being overlooked? Read on for Grammarly’s top strategies on writing a cover letter that gets results!

Resume Repetition

Many job seekers simply use their cover letters to rehash the information included in their resumes, but that’s a mistake that can hurt your chances of getting an interview. Career coach Alexandra Sleator points out that the purpose of a cover letter is to provide context for your application.

It’s “an interpretation of the information you share in your resume. What it isn’t is a repetition,” Sleator says.

Read over your cover letter and ask yourself if it offers any new insights and information beyond the factual details found in your resume. If the answer is no, then it’s time to reconsider your approach.

Is There an Echo in Here?

While your cover letter is all about you, avoid making too many statements that begin with “I”. Veteran resume-writer Lee Tonge warns against overusing the pronoun:

“While you want to market your skills and abilities to the prospective employer, starting every single sentence with ‘I can do…’, ‘I have done…’ etc., is tedious to read and is not effective. You need to add interest to the letter by writing in a way that avoids repetition.”

You should also scan your cover letter for any words or phrases that pop up more than once. Check out this list of redundant phrases to watch out for — and if you find any in your cover letter, reach for the delete key!

Time (and Space) Is Money

Considering that a typical cover letter is a single page with just 3-5 brief paragraphs of text, you need to make the most of your limited space. You should also keep in mind that recruiters and hiring managers won’t spend more than a minute or two scanning your letter andTime resume, so keep things short. Don’t “bury the lede” with rambling sentences or redundant language.

For example, if you feel that one of your greatest assets is your punctuality, don’t waste time by reiterating your timeliness, promptness, and uncanny ability to meet deadlines. Make your point once and move on.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Avoid the standard opening, “I am writing to express my interest in position X.” The recruiter already knows that you’re apply to the job — that’s why you sent in a resume and cover letter, after all. Instead of telling the reader something they already know, open with a memorable hook.

As Jenny Treanor writes for LiveCareer, “Like all effective writing, a great cover letter tells a story … but it’s a short story.”

Read more in Cover Letter

A self-proclaimed word nerd, Allison VanNest works with Grammarly to help perfect written English. Connect with Allie, the Grammarly team, and nearly FIVE MILLION Grammarly Facebook fans at www.facebook.com/grammarly.
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