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Rachel Kaufman

Six Words You Should Never Use In Your Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter for your job application can be more of an art than a science. What works for one hiring manager may be a turnoff for others. But there are a few hard and fast rules–some definite dos and don’ts. Want to hear about the words you should never use in your cover letter? Of course you do. Keep reading.

1) “U”

As in, short for “you.” Your cover letter is not a text message. “U,” “LOL,” and “YOLO” have no place in a job application. (Yet….but Tufts let prospective freshmen write about their personal definition of YOLO in their admissions essay, so don’t rule it out. Also, the world is ending.)

That said, in some industries it’s OK to be less formal, but if you wouldn’t write it in an email to a colleague or a professor, don’t put it in a cover letter.

2) “anything”

As in, “I will do anything.” Employers want to see that you’re focused–on their particular industry, on their particular job. “I’ll do anything” and similar language (“I just need a foot in the door anywhere” or “I’m not picky about the work I do”) makes you look unfocused at best, desperate at worst. Read more

The Top 10 Cover Letter Fails Ever (as defined arbitrarily by yours truly, MJD blogger)

Fail RoadDepending on who you ask, sending a cover letter for a job application is either outdated and hopelessly dumb or is the defining factor for whether you get the job. Of course, if your cover letter looks like one of the ten atrocious ones below, you’ll probably agree with those who hold the former opinion.

I’ve been collecting my favorite examples of egregious cover letters for years. From simple yet unfortunate typos to bigger issues, these ten, culled from the Web and from applications I’ve received, are among the worst of the worst.


#10: I sh*t you not
I’m looking for work because even though my company was profitable last year, this year they are expecting a large defecate.

Sent to ad agency Killian Branding, this line underscores why you should never rely on spell-check to proofread your letters. Have a friend look over your work before you send it off.


#9: I prefer oysters, myself
Other skills I’ve learned are, being a proficient multi-tasker, handling detailed oriented documents with care, handling stressful situations with a clam demeanor, and joggling different projects with time management.

Another lesson for would-be hires: TELLING about your skills is much less effective than showing them. In this case, this supposedly detail-oriented applicant made at least four mistakes in one sentence, depending on how you count, undermining his or her own claims. (Source)


#8: This was for a job that specifically said the hire must be based in Washington, D.C.
My name is [redacted] and I was hoping I could still submit and work remotely, as I never lived or be in DC. Please look at my resume and accomplishments to see that I have excellent expertise working on my own with no supervision.

While some say you may have nothing to lose by applying when you clearly don’t meet the most basic qualifications of skills, experience, or in this case geography, you also have very little to gain by ignoring explicit instructions. This letter came in for a job I posted and went straight into the trash.


#7: Same job, different applicant.
Hello from California…

Are you even reading the ad?


#6: Is this a job application or a romance novel?
Taking notes and pictures on the floor of the Senate Finance Committee boardroom with an H&M skirt daintily covering my folded legs. This is Tim Geithner’s third testimony on the Hill this week alone, and his eyes dart around the room more than usual… It is at this moment I realize that reporting and I were meant to be. He has had his practice, I have had mine — and it all comes down to this moment.

From our friends at FishbowlDC…I have no words.

Read more

TheLadders Sued for ‘Breach of Contract’ and More, the formerly “Only $100k+ jobs” board, has been sued in U.S. District Court for breach of contract among other things, reports headhunter and career guru Nick Corcodilos.

The suit alleges:

Unlike other online job boards which are free to join, TheLadders charged a premium subscription fee to members for ‘hand-screen[ing] every job post and recruiter so you only see real, open $100k+ jobs in your area.’ In reality, however, its job postings were not hand-screened. They were ‘scraped’ from the Internet without authorization from employers or recruiters, and the employment opportunities were not for ‘real, open $100k+ jobs.’ Moreover, TheLadders had no process in place to ensure that these posted positions ever truly existed, remained open, or that they met its minimum advertised salary criteria of $100k+.

Corcodilos, who has covered TheLadders thoroughly for years (here about 1/3 down the page, for example, is an amazing transcript of a chat between a frustrated jobseeker and a TheLadders customer service rep), writes, “I’m laffing my ass off.”

TheLadders has had a long and schadenfreude-filled history for those of us who follow job board industry news. After a few years as the “only $100k+ jobs” job board, where members paid a premium subscription to access said jobs, it launched a Signature program that cost even more money but “guaranteed” each participant a job offer within six months. Around the same time, TheLadders held a blogger junket in which it paid a bunch of writers and bloggers to visit NYC and learn about the good parts of the company.

And then later in 2011, TheLadders decided that it was no longer an “only $100k+ jobs” service and opened membership up to everyone.

The suit has more than 100 class members and you can find out more by reading the law firm’s announcement.

ETA 3/14/13:
Lisa Hagendorf, VP of public relations for TheLadders, submitted this statement from TheLadders CEO and cofounder Alex Douzet:

We believe the allegations set forth in this complaint to be false. In fact, our employees review job listings before they are posted to our site, as has always been our protocol. Additionally, we have a team of specialists who review resumes and provide individualized critiques. This complaint lacks merit, and we fully intend to take the necessary legal steps to dispose of it quickly. In the interim, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing the best job-matching experience for employers and job seekers, while serving as the fastest-growing source for career-driven professionals.

February ADP Employment Report Is More Of The Same

Private-sector employment increased by 198,000 jobs in February, and by 215,000 in January, payroll giant ADP announced today.

While February’s gains are the latest in a string of monthly job additions that stretches back years, the numbers aren’t as large as they could be, as some estimates say that the recession wiped out nearly 8 million jobs. Adding 200,000 jobs per month would mean we’d be back to pre-recession levels in…more than 3 years. Who’s got the time?

ADP, citing a Moody’s report, called the job market “sturdy,” however, as the report beat analysts’ expectations.

Fake Kickstarter Marketer Lands At AOL

called out Sander Saar for creating a clever “fake Kickstarter” viral resume, in which employers could “pledge” to take him out for coffee, give him a two-week tryout, and more, we criticized his execution.

“He doesn’t present very well in video…while an interactive CV is clever, Sander really should have his actual resume on the site.” And so on.

Well, check it out. According to his LinkedIn page he has been working at goviral, an online video distribution agency in AOL’s group, in London, since last September.

Congratulations, Sander!

Burned Freelancer Takes Client’s Website Hostage

From our friends at PRNewser here is a story no freelancer ever wants to see: a web designer who claims he wasn’t paid for his work has replaced his client’s website with a ransom note.

The site, which used to be a website for a chain of gyms in California, now looks like this:

While we understand Frank Jonen’s position and sympathize, this also makes us hurt a little on the inside.

Fellow freelancers are saying that it’s what everyone ever stiffed on payment has wanted to do. Other clients? May decide to never hire Jonen based on this stunt.

And of course the move makes other clients think “horror show” when they consider hiring a freelancer — any freelancer.

According to AdWeek, the client–Fitness SF–is now saying that Jonen is trying to “blackmail” them.

Here’s a tip for freelancers who don’t want to be stiffed. If the money stops coming, STOP WORKING. Immediately. Don’t do a little more “because they’re so nice” or “because they promised to pay you.” Just don’t.

Trouble at Budget Travel

A spokesperson for the company says that the magazine is “not in bankruptcy at this time,” however, some sad news is coming out of that magazine with or without the official designation of bankruptcy.

An editor told a freelance tipster of ours that Budget Travel, which has been struggling financially for many years, “is going through a reorganization.” Until then, the magazine is unable to process past payments — including to freelancers like our tipster who is owed a few hundred dollars for a story nearly a year ago.

The editor went on to say that BT’s staff has been reduced to a “handful” and that the magazine may not go back to printing a paper copy until it has exited the reorganization.

Budget Travel was purchased by hedge fund manager Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher Jr. in 2010 from Newsweek, which was at the time owned by the Washington Post Co. The New York Post estimated last fall that the magazine’s liabilities exceeded $1 million, and reported that the magazine’s paper supplier is owed money along with the company that handles its subscriptions.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that BT’s liabilities exceeded $1 billion. The error has been corrected.

Laid-Off Journalist Brews ‘Unemployed Reporter Porter’

Former Hartford Advocate writer Jon Campbell has picked up a new hobby now that he’s, well, a former Advocate writer.

His homebrew, Unemployed Reporter Porter, includes “chocolate and roasted barley malts that are as dark and bitter as the future of American journalism” and “a high alcohol content designed to numb the pain of a slow, inexorable march toward obsolescence.”

The label, which you can view at, features a black and white photo of a journalist sitting over a typewriter and crying into his palms.

It also reads, “Porter style beers were first popularized in the nineteenth century by merchant sailors and manual dock laborers. Unemployed Reporter is crafted in the same tradition, honoring a profession likewise doomed to decline and irrelevance.”

Campbell worked at the Advocate for just seven months in 2011, according to his LinkedIn. The Advocate, which is owned by Tribune Co., went through a round of layoffs in July 2011.

The Most Amazing Resume We’ve Seen Lately (Or Ever)

We here at MediaJobsDaily are leery of using superlatives like “most amazing” as there’s almost always something more amazing down the pike, but this resume is actually, sincerely great and may be the “greatest.”

Just look at this:

Look harder…..

Yeah, that’s not an Amazon page. It’s his resume. And yet all the typical Amazon bells and whistles are there….the fonts match…the checkboxes are checkable…even the search bar works (though if you change the category away from Job Candidates to anything else, an alert pops up that asks, “Seriously? You’d rather go shopping?”)

The resume has already gotten over 800,000 visitors. Go be the 800,001st because you really gotta see it.

Private Sector Employment Increased By Almost 200k: ADP

Private-sector employment rose by 192,000 in January, payroll giant ADP says.

That’s slightly higher than the revised job growth for December (185,000 jobs) but well in line with the sort of numbers we’ve been seeing month in and month out for what feels like forever.

ADP says that most of the job growth took place at small companies (1-49 employees), while the largest companies (+1,000 employees) even shed some jobs.

The biggest gains among industries tracked by ADP were in professional/business services and trade/transportation/utilities.

Here’s a slightly encouraging chart. Hopefully the official U.S. numbers on Friday will be just as encouraging.