How To Write A Really Bad Cover Letter

Expert Author Lorraine E. Wright
Writing a bad cover letter must be easy, because thousands of jobseekers do it every day! But do you have what it takes to write a REALLY bad cover letter? One that will almost guarantee you have no chance whatsoever at getting an interview? Let's see if you're familiar with some of the rules of awful cover letter writing.
  1. Use the same cover letter for every single job you apply to: Don't customize it in any way, just find a template on the Internet, stick your name on the end of it, and call it a day. Don't even bother to mention the job or competition number. Who has the time?
  2. Don't include the address or name of the company: This will be easy since you're using the same letter for everyone. You have better things to do than spend 20 seconds putting this information on your cover letter. Those TV shows won't watch themselves!
  3. Don't use the name of the hiring manager in your salutation: Start the letter out: Dear Sir/Ma'am, or better yet, To Whom It May Concern. That has a nice impersonal, no-frills ring to it.
  4. Make it really, really long: Two pages is a minimum but three is even better. Make sure to include every detail of your work history and education, as well as all kinds of hobbies and community activities, no matter how irrelevant. It will give the hiring manager something to fill his long, boring workday. Basically, rephrase your entire resume, in case the employer loses the resume. It never hurts to repeat yourself. Yes, it never hurts to repeat yourself.
  5. Use tiny font and long, run-on sentences and paragraphs: A size 9 Times New Roman font or smaller should be adequate for giving the most eyestrain possible. Don't use anything over a size 10 font though - why make it easy for them? And avoid bullets and bolding; they make the important points stand out way too clearly.
  6. Use the fanciest font and formatting you can get your hands on: Ideally, do your cover letter in some obscure font you downloaded off the Internet. Throw in some Wing Dings just for decoration. This guarantees that when it gets opened at the other end by the employer, your letter will be virtually unrecognizable, since it's unlikely he'll have that font on his computer.
  7. Never send the cover letter in the requested format: If the job posting insists that all cover letters and resumes be e-mailed, show up in person with hard copies. If you're supposed to combine your cover letter and resume into one file, and send it as a Word document, send them as two separate attachments in PDF form. If you're supposed to mail the cover letter and resume, fax them instead! Think of all the extra attention you'll get as the hiring managers struggle with your creatively non-conformist approach!
  8. Do not address the main qualifications of the job: If 10 years experience in Purchasing is absolutely essential for the job, make sure you don't in any way let on whether you have this experience or not. They'll enjoy guessing. If a knowledge of Spanish and Chinese is the #1 job requirement, don't mention that either. In fact, be certain not to make any reference at all in your cover letter to any of the top three or four main qualifications required for the job. It will spoil the surprise.
  9. Sound as robotic as possible: Use stuffy, excessively formal English. Extra points for including words like herewith and notwithstanding. Make sure no hint of personality creeps into your letter.
  10. Be overly casual and use humour inappropriately: This is the opposite of #9 but even more effective. Start your letter with: "Hey! What's up? Working for you guys would be awesome!" End with: "In conclusion, I'd like to give you a sample of what kind of non-stop laughs you'd get if you hired me. A nun, a rabbi and a penguin walk into a bar..."
  11. Don't bother with Spell-check: Who cares if you confuse it's and its, or there and their. It doesn't matter if you write, "I look foreword to atending you're company events." They're not hiring you for your spelling anyway.
So there you have it; 10 sure-fire tips for writing a truly awful cover letter. To help you remember them, let's relist them, but as opposites. Here are the 10 points reversed, as they would appear if for some weird reason you actually WANTED a good chance at getting an interview:
  1. Customize your cover letter for every job you apply to.
  2. Include the name and address of the company, and the job or competition number.
  3. Include, if possible, the personal name of the person who will be reading the letter.
  4. Keep it brief and concise.
  5. Keep it easy to read, with a good sized font and bulleted section, with strategic bolding.
  6. Stick to basic and commonly-used fonts. Avoid overly fancy formatting.
  7. Be sure to send the cover letter and resume in the format requested in the job posting.
  8. Briefly address all the top three or four qualifications for the job, perhaps in a series of bullets.
  9. Use the best English, spelling and grammar possible, but sound natural and like a real person.
  10. Don't be overly casual. Use humour sparingly and cautiously, if at all.
  11. Make sure the grammar, spelling and formatting are as perfect as you can possibly make them.
Be sure to use these tips next time you want to write a cover letter that's either truly horrible, or really good and effective. It's entirely up to you which type you choose.

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