Does Your Cover Letter Make You Sound Like a Robot?

Nancy Anderson
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A compelling cover letter is a key part of any job application. However, a cover letter that makes you sound like a robot can be off-putting to hiring managers. Sound less robotic in your cover letter by paying careful attention to the words and phrases you use.

Some cover letters sound robotic right from the first line. "Dear Sirs" or "Dear Sir or Madam" is an overly formal and formulaic way to open a cover letter in today's hiring market. Try to find out the name of the organization's hiring manager, and use it. Doing this basic research shows you are capable of finding out information on your own, which is a useful skill in many jobs. If you can't find the name of the hiring manager, try "Dear Hiring Team" as a less formal alternative.

Always write your cover letter in the first person. Writing in third person sounds overly formal and downright odd. You are the one applying for the job, so write about yourself using the pronoun "I." The hiring manager knows your name - it's written on your job application - so there's no need to repeat it throughout your cover letter.

Nothing makes you seem more robotic than peppering your cover letter with cliches and buzzwords. Rather than filling up your cover letter with tired phrases that convey very little meaning, such as "think outside the box" and "team player," give concrete examples that show your skills. "Improved employee engagement by 17 percent" shows you are good at managing and working with people, without directly stating it.

A cover letter should be as brief as possible, so it's important to cut out any words that aren't working hard to get you the job. Some seemingly standard cover letter lines are prime candidates for cutting. For example, cut the phrase "References available upon request." Hiring managers who want references will ask for them regardless of whether you include this line in your cover letter. The safest approach is to assume all employers want to contact your references to ensure they are willing to speak on your behalf.

Finally, have a friend or colleague read through your cover letter and provide feedback. Ask your associate to look out for phrases that make you sound like a faceless corporate entity instead of the human being they know. Other people can often spot problems with writing more easily than the author, so it's essential to ask for help at this stage.

Some phrases that you include in your cover letters without thinking about them can make you sound like a robot. Transform yourself into a human job seeker by cutting cliches, buzzwords and redundant phrases. By using slightly less formal phrasing, your cover letter can present you as a compelling human being, not a boring robot.


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