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Thread: Cover Letters

  1. #1
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    Cover Letters

    I'm applying for internships and I'm trying to figure out what I should write in the salutation, as I'm not writing the cv to a specific person. As in...
    "Dear Mr. X" What should X be? I was thinking "Reviewer" would be a good choice. Any suggestions??? Also, is "Mr" ok???

  2. #2
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    Definitely do not use Mr. unless it is going to a specific male person. (Don't have any advice if you are sending to a specific person who is transgender).

    If at all possible, find out who is in charge of the first screening of each particular internship. Address it to that person, as Mr. or Ms. Keep it short and sweet. The best way to make sure it doesn't get read is to make it too long.

    A close friend of mine is a high-falutin recruiter, and we are doing lunch on Thursday. I'll ask her recommendation and report back that afternoon.

  3. #3
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    It is best to find out who will be reviewing your cv, and address it specifically to him or her. Just call the company up and ask for the name and title of the person who reviews internship applications. If the name is ambiguous, or even if it is not, ask if it is Mr. or Ms. From what I've heard, even that little bit will help you cv stand out against other generically addressed cvs.

    Having said that, if you can't find that information, you can always use "To whom it may concern".

    If you are planning to apply to a lot of internships, and think it would be too much work to get that information for every company, I'd suggest picking the top 5 internships you want, and getting the contact information for those, and using a generic salutation for the rest.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roving Philosopher
    Having said that, if you can't find that information, you can always use "To whom it may concern".
    I agree with RP's post, except for this bit: "To whom it may concern" isn't appropriate. Try to get (and use) the HR person's name. If you can't, use "Dear Sir or Madam,". It's far less cold and impersonal.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

  5. #5
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    Is "LS" or "L.S." (Lectori Salutem) used in English? Or is it way too old fashioned and formal?

  6. #6
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    I go with "Dear Sir or Madam" for something formal when I don't know the sex of the recipient.

    Lectori Salutem sounds cool, though.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  7. #7
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    I'm applying to a lot of postings (found them by doing a job search on the company's website) in several different cities (same company and similar jobs). But I'm specifically interested in one. Do I just call them up and find out?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by randb
    I'm applying to a lot of postings (found them by doing a job search on the company's website) in several different cities (same company and similar jobs). But I'm specifically interested in one. Do I just call them up and find out?
    Pretty much. You should have no problem getting the correct mailing address (and fax number) of the HR department and for the appropriate contact name for that competition.

    I doubt I need to mention this, but be certain to be unfailingly polite and pleasant during the phone call, even if she can't give you the information you're looking for. Your "favorable impression building" exercise starts at the receptionist's phone.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek
    Lectori Salutem sounds cool, though.
    Doesn't it? I'm more than a little tempted to adopt it next time I need to write a cover letter, but I'll need to think it through a bit more.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

  10. #10
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    Had reason to chat with my Recruiter friend today. Her advice, in this order:

    1 - If at all possible, get a name and use it.
    2 - To whom it may concern and Dear Sir or Madam are both very common and very acceptable.
    3 - Don't sweat the small stuff. Unless you put in something offensive or try to be cute, nobody is really going to care much about your salutation - which is what you want. Save the attention getters for the resume.

    She is a pretty big time executive recruiter - I'd trust her advice. I asked her to bottom-line it for me and she said to just use common sense. She said she'd question the judgement of a professional recruiter who spent time scrutinizing any form of standard greeting.

    My advice, don't use foriegn words or faux foreign stuff. You can also stand out by using language no more complex than it needs to be. When
    I was hiring, I found it refreshing when people were honest, to the point, and unpretentious. A Custodian or Janitor may be a Building Services Technician to HR, but most interviewers and hiring managers prefer brevity and plain talk. If someone is impressed by a person that calls lunch a repast, adds 'per se' to the end of their sentences, or pronounces processes with a log e at the end; consider what working for them might be like.

  11. #11
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    Dear Sir or Madam

    That is what I have always used

  12. #12
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    When I was getting made redundant a couple of years back the one thing that was made very very clear by the recruitment consultants that were brought in (half the people on site were going) was get the name of whoever you are writing to about a job. For one, it marks you out from all the people who couldn't be bothered, and if you phone to find this out you may also get the chance to speak to the person doing the recruitment. So make sure you have an idea of something to say....

    Cheers
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjumperdon
    Definitely do not use Mr. unless it is going to a specific male person. (Don't have any advice if you are sending to a specific person who is transgender).
    I do. Proper etiquette in this situation is to use the gender by which they identify. This is why the main characters in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert should be referred to as "she" while actually in drag--and Bernadette for the whole movie, as she's the transsexual.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  14. #14
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    Smile

    Just to make sure I've got it right for my next encounter, a guy in drag should be addressed as Madam.

    How about holding a door open? In drag - yes? Not in drag - no?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose
    I agree with RP's post, except for this bit: "To whom it may concern" isn't appropriate. Try to get (and use) the HR person's name. If you can't, use "Dear Sir or Madam,". It's far less cold and impersonal.
    Chalk it up to a difference in style. I was always taught (and happen to agree) that "Dear ________" was too informal for a cover letter, as it assumes a familiarity which does not exist.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by enginelessjohn
    When I was getting made redundant a couple of years back the one thing that was made very very clear by the recruitment consultants that were brought in (half the people on site were going) was get the name of whoever you are writing to about a job. For one, it marks you out from all the people who couldn't be bothered, and if you phone to find this out you may also get the chance to speak to the person doing the recruitment. So make sure you have an idea of something to say....

    Cheers
    John

    What do I say, if I get a chance to talk to the HR manager/recruiter. The department I'm applying to is not going to interview me. (My friend got in, and he said he was interviewed by 2 HR managers/recruiters).

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjumperdon
    Just to make sure I've got it right for my next encounter, a guy in drag should be addressed as Madam.

    How about holding a door open? In drag - yes? Not in drag - no?
    Right on the first. On the second . . . well, I hold doors open for people, regardless of gender identity. However, if you only hold doors open for women, go with female-identifying as well.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by randb
    What do I say, if I get a chance to talk to the HR manager/recruiter. The department I'm applying to is not going to interview me. (My friend got in, and he said he was interviewed by 2 HR managers/recruiters).
    "Hi I'm Randb, and I'm interested in <insert job position here>. I think I'm qualified for the position, because <insert why you want it> and I'd like to find out the name of the person in charge of recruiting <for aforementioned job> so I can send my CV <or resume>".

    Don't have a 10 minute speech prepared as they may be busy, but have a think about good interview things to say in case they decide to have a quick phone interview. Note down things like qualifications and achivements so you can reel them off without thinking too much. The key is to sound like an outgoing communicative person, and this is what gets people jobs.

    Something else to bear in mind if you are invited to interview is that when organisations are recruiting, there is a chance they will talk to EVERYONE who has contact with candidates. From the receptionist onwards, so it is vital to impress everyone involved. Be polite and pleasant and smile when you meet them. Stand up, make eye contact and shake hands at the start of an interview. I've been involved in recruiting a fair bit in my current job, and people have been ruled out for the way they treated people they didn't think were part of the process....

    Cheers
    John

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by enginelessjohn
    "Hi I'm Randb, and I'm interested in <insert job position here>. I think I'm qualified for the position, because <insert why you want it> and I'd like to find out the name of the person in charge of recruiting <for aforementioned job> so I can send my CV <or resume>".

    Don't have a 10 minute speech prepared as they may be busy, but have a think about good interview things to say in case they decide to have a quick phone interview. Note down things like qualifications and achivements so you can reel them off without thinking too much. The key is to sound like an outgoing communicative person, and this is what gets people jobs.

    Something else to bear in mind if you are invited to interview is that when organisations are recruiting, there is a chance they will talk to EVERYONE who has contact with candidates. From the receptionist onwards, so it is vital to impress everyone involved. Be polite and pleasant and smile when you meet them. Stand up, make eye contact and shake hands at the start of an interview. I've been involved in recruiting a fair bit in my current job, and people have been ruled out for the way they treated people they didn't think were part of the process....

    Cheers
    John

    This is my first time at this stuff. I'm currently working as a researcher, and that was an easy job to get....atleast for me. I walked into the professor's office, expressed my interest, and gave him my resume. I was hired right then.
    Got a chance to talk to my friend, and got to know what questions he was asked. He was inteviewed only by a HR manager (actually 2. he claimed that one was asking him questions and the other was giggling the whole time), who asked him about his current research, classes, and why he wanted to work for the company. I'm just hoping I dont get nevous.

    BTW do I have to be formal during the interview?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by randb
    BTW do I have to be formal during the interview?
    Somewhat. It depends on the environment, but the sweet spot is to aim one level dressier/more conservatively than they are. If it's shirtsleeves, then you wear a tie. (You should regardless, never dress lower than shirt and tie). If they're sleeves and tie, you wear a tie and jacket. If they're businessy casual, you go business suit. Etc.

    The idea is to dress like you'll fit in, but up enough that it's clear your application is a serious one.

    Let me give you a story about what I mean:

    I once went to an open house for a large consulting corporation. They were recruiting programmers. The lineup was long, so it wasn't so much an open house as a walk-through. Maybe 5% of the people there were wearing a tie. I wasn't wearing a full business suit (didn't have one that fit comfortably) or anything, but I was there in good pants, decent shoes, a good (non-white) shirt and decent tie. No special jacket as it was a warm evening.

    I was rather surprised (and somewhat disgusted) at how many went in with wildly-scruffy hair wearing socks and flip-flops, and basically looking like they just came from a back-porch kegger serving coors light.

    So when I was inside, I observed a large group of the scruffy people ahead of me filling out short applications and putting their resum&#233;s inside a photocopier paper-crate, and chatting up some cute random crewing that kiosk.

    Whereas I was discreetly approached by one of a few well-dressed junior managers there, led to a quiet corner of the cube farm, and interviewed on the spot. He took my resum&#233;, put it in a small folder he was carrying, and we chatted shop for about ten minutes before he skimmed off the next recruitable prospect from the crowd of frat-boy rejects.

    I was contacted for recruitment later that week, although I begged off when I found out they expected me to relocate repeatedly, and almost randomly after the six weeks of training. I had strong reason at the time to wish to remain in Halifax, or as close as could be managed.

    The moral of my story is, of course, to dress appropriately anytime you set foot in the place, so you can be sure to end up in the small folder when the time comes, not the large paper-crate. It should be noted that my government site distributes those empty boxes at will for employee shredding bins. I suspect the resum&#233;s of the scruffies who couldn't be bothered to put on a lousy tie ended up at the same place.
    "Words that make questions may not be questions at all."
    - Neil deGrasse Tyson, answering loaded question in ten words or less
    at a 2010 talk MCed by Stephen Colbert.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose
    Somewhat. It depends on the environment, but the sweet spot is to aim one level dressier/more conservatively than they are. If it's shirtsleeves, then you wear a tie. (You should regardless, never dress lower than shirt and tie). If they're sleeves and tie, you wear a tie and jacket. If they're businessy casual, you go business suit. Etc.

    The idea is to dress like you'll fit in, but up enough that it's clear your application is a serious one.

    Let me give you a story about what I mean:

    I once went to an open house for a large consulting corporation. They were recruiting programmers. The lineup was long, so it wasn't so much an open house as a walk-through. Maybe 5% of the people there were wearing a tie. I wasn't wearing a full business suit (didn't have one that fit comfortably) or anything, but I was there in good pants, decent shoes, a good (non-white) shirt and decent tie. No special jacket as it was a warm evening.

    I was rather surprised (and somewhat disgusted) at how many went in with wildly-scruffy hair wearing socks and flip-flops, and basically looking like they just came from a back-porch kegger serving coors light.

    So when I was inside, I observed a large group of the scruffy people ahead of me filling out short applications and putting their resumés inside a photocopier paper-crate, and chatting up some cute random crewing that kiosk.

    Whereas I was discreetly approached by one of a few well-dressed junior managers there, led to a quiet corner of the cube farm, and interviewed on the spot. He took my resumé, put it in a small folder he was carrying, and we chatted shop for about ten minutes before he skimmed off the next recruitable prospect from the crowd of frat-boy rejects.

    I was contacted for recruitment later that week, although I begged off when I found out they expected me to relocate repeatedly, and almost randomly after the six weeks of training. I had strong reason at the time to wish to remain in Halifax, or as close as could be managed.

    The moral of my story is, of course, to dress appropriately anytime you set foot in the place, so you can be sure to end up in the small folder when the time comes, not the large paper-crate. It should be noted that my government site distributes those empty boxes at will for employee shredding bins. I suspect the resumés of the scruffies who couldn't be bothered to put on a lousy tie ended up at the same place.
    thanks for the info. I wish i get an in-person interview. I get nervous over the phone.

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