Cover Letters- pretentious or safe/boring? Watch

leopard202
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Graduated, applying for jobs, not hearing back. Wondering if my cover letters need work.

A couple of places i've felt i really want to work for, because i appreciate some aspects of what they do on a 'deeper level' and think i could offer something. Feel like this is an important point to get across but don't want to sound pretentious. How can I get passion across without seeming unappealingly keen, or presumptuous? For one philosophy related job i gave examples of current specific things i was reading about, and what i researched for my dissertation, but heard nothing. wonder if i should have not tried too hard to show i think we think in similar ways. But also feel like i have to really prove my abilities.

Should i restrain cover letters to just tick the boxes? does that get an interview more than someone who is trying to be more deeply sincere and talking about something specific meaningful to them (and relevant) or is that too corny??
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ajj2000
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What sort of jobs are you looking for? I think the application approach often varies a lot dependant on job level, type and industry.
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leopard202
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(Original post by ajj2000)
What sort of jobs are you looking for? I think the application approach often varies a lot dependant on job level, type and industry.
They're research jobs at design/architecture places, so potentially conceptual artsy kind of work. A rigid appliciation doesnt seem like it'd be too appealing
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ajj2000
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(Original post by leopard202)
They're research jobs at design/architecture places, so potentially conceptual artsy kind of work. A rigid appliciation doesnt seem like it'd be too appealing
That sounds very specific. I’d reach out to people who do similar roles to see what is expected of applicants - cv style, cover letter etc.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by leopard202)
How can I get passion across without seeming unappealingly keen, or presumptuous?
Only a British person would write this I feel exactly the same about it. Over-enthusiasm is a cardinal sin.
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leopard202
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Only a British person would write this I feel exactly the same about it. Over-enthusiasm is a cardinal sin.
So you think its better to play it safe??
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by leopard202)
Graduated, applying for jobs, not hearing back. Wondering if my cover letters need work.

A couple of places i've felt i really want to work for, because i appreciate some aspects of what they do on a 'deeper level' and think i could offer something. Feel like this is an important point to get across but don't want to sound pretentious. How can I get passion across without seeming unappealingly keen, or presumptuous? For one philosophy related job i gave examples of current specific things i was reading about, and what i researched for my dissertation, but heard nothing. wonder if i should have not tried too hard to show i think we think in similar ways. But also feel like i have to really prove my abilities.

Should i restrain cover letters to just tick the boxes? does that get an interview more than someone who is trying to be more deeply sincere and talking about something specific meaningful to them (and relevant) or is that too corny??
It's a straightforward formula. You just answer three unspoken questions

Why do you want to do this sort of work?
Why do you want to work for this company?
Why do you think you'd be good at it?

This presents the argument - I want to do this sort of work, I want to do it with you and I'd be good at it.

Don't start talking about passions or life-motivations, in business in the UK that sort of emotional language (very popular from Asian applicants) goes down quite badly.

None of that means you can't be sincere.
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leopard202
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
It's a straightforward formula. You just answer three unspoken questions

Why do you want to do this sort of work?
Why do you want to work for this company?
Why do you think you'd be good at it?

This presents the argument - I want to do this sort of work, I want to do it with you and I'd be good at it.

Don't start talking about passions or life-motivations, in business in the UK that sort of emotional language (very popular from Asian applicants) goes down quite badly.

None of that means you can't be sincere.
What about referring to specific examples of their work/approach and why it resonates with a current interest or something you've already done? is it corny to say, 'particularly your *mention project or work of theirs' appealed to me because of 'mention similar experience / work of mine' or is that presumptious and sounds like im trying to compare our work (as an inexperienced grad)
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by leopard202)
What about referring to specific examples of their work/approach and why it resonates with a current interest or something you've already done? is it corny to say, 'particularly your *mention project or work of theirs' appealed to me because of 'mention similar experience / work of mine' or is that presumptious and sounds like im trying to compare our work (as an inexperienced grad)
It's not corny, so long as it's true and you've got a genuine connection.

I'm particularly interested in your expansion into ice sales in the arctic circle, because my grandparents were Inuit and I've made several visits to Greenland and Northern Norway. That's fine.

I'm particularly impressed by your recent award in the International Ice Sellers convention in Dubai. I think this really shows what a progressive, diverse, and sustainable company you are. I would be an ideal fit with this mindset. That's complete nonsense on multiple levels (but the equivalen gets written all the time)

You've got 300-350 words, in the format I mentioned previously. You need to give examples, but don't get carried away with random word lists.
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leopard202
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
It's not corny, so long as it's true and you've got a genuine connection.

I'm particularly interested in your expansion into ice sales in the arctic circle, because my grandparents were Inuit and I've made several visits to Greenland and Northern Norway. That's fine.

I'm particularly impressed by your recent award in the International Ice Sellers convention in Dubai. I think this really shows what a progressive, diverse, and sustainable company you are. I would be an ideal fit with this mindset. That's complete nonsense on multiple levels (but the equivalen gets written all the time)

You've got 300-350 words, in the format I mentioned previously. You need to give examples, but don't get carried away with random word lists.
Nice examples...

350 words?! I've never done less than about 500-600. Maybe that's why i never got replies.
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by leopard202)
Nice examples...

350 words?! I've never done less than about 500-600. Maybe that's why i never got replies.
Yup, that'll be part of it. One side of A4, in formal letter format, so with your address, a salutation and a sign off. That only gives you about 350 words max at a decent font size.
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leopard202
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(Original post by threeportdrift)
Yup, that'll be part of it. One side of A4, in formal letter format, so with your address, a salutation and a sign off. That only gives you about 350 words max at a decent font size.
Thanks. One last Q

If it is a temporary position (3 months) is it a Do or Don't to mention future plans to continue studying (e.g i have postponed my Masters in *relevant field* to gain more experience)? They have not mentioned whether they intend to keep people on afterwards or not
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threeportdrift
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(Original post by leopard202)
Thanks. One last Q

If it is a temporary position (3 months) is it a Do or Don't to mention future plans to continue studying (e.g i have postponed my Masters in *relevant field* to gain more experience)? They have not mentioned whether they intend to keep people on afterwards or not
If they say it's a 3 month contract, it's fine to say you have something else to do after 3 months.

A company can be uncertain about work beyond 3 months, so hire for 3 months and then decide there's an opening for longer. But it's extremely poor employment practice to effectively 'try before you buy' by hiring a few people for 3 months knowing you are going to keep one on beyond that.

So if they say 3 month contract, its legitimate to mention something you are doing afterwards.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by leopard202)
Thanks. One last Q

If it is a temporary position (3 months) is it a Do or Don't to mention future plans to continue studying (e.g i have postponed my Masters in *relevant field* to gain more experience)? They have not mentioned whether they intend to keep people on afterwards or not
Do you need to tell them? Isn't this a case of 'need to know basis'? I don't see what you'd stand to benefit by mentioning it anyway.
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