As a college student/financial writer, I'm approached regularly by classmates and friends asking for help with their cover letters for job and internship applications.
Most of the advice on these letters is obvious: Proofread, spell-check, try to sound intelligent, avoid cliches, etc. But in a post on his website, CampusLive founder Boris Revsin writes that many letters sent by young people are lacking a key ingredient: emotion.
"That's right, you can convey urgency and commitment through your writing. Pretty neat concept, especially because it means a LOT more of your emails will be answered. People will start to take some time to read your stuff. They are going to LOVE reading your stuff, because they will feel like it MATTERS to you that they read and respond," he writes.
And so here's my advice to young people sending letters seeking internships and job offers: Be less pretentious, be more sincere, and let your passion stand out in your letters. "Going forward, make eliminating trite corporate-speak a key objective of your long-term strategy for personal and professional growth." If someone wants to hire a 50-year old corporate veteran, they will: There are plenty of those out there competing for jobs too. If a company is looking for someone with experience in the buttoned-down world of CEO-speak and posturing, let's be honest: We can't compete.
As young people, the only real competitive advantage we have over older workers is our vigor and enthusiasm. Overly-crafted, pretentious cover letters are transparent to all but the dimmest hiring managers -- and do you really want to work at a company that has stupid people in charge of hiring?
So when you're writing emails and letters, let yourself go a little bit. That will give you the best shot at standing out as memorable in a sea of similarity.
Young and inexperienced ... but sincere: How to write a better cover letter