Having now sifted through hundreds if not thousands of CVs and covering letters for software testing jobs, I felt the need to share some tips on how to write a covering letter that will make sure you are successful in the rejection of your application.
No covering letter?
An easy way to increase your chance of successful rejection is to not include a covering letter at all. After all, why give the recruiter the chance to get to know you and risk seeing something special in you that makes you stand out from the crowd, just leave it up to the generic list of skills and experience in your CV!
But their system won’t let me submit without a covering letter…
Some application systems demand a covering note. That’s easy. Don’t waste time writing one, simply copy & paste the top of your CV! No editing required; job done.
Attention to detail
There is a category of tips that are more specific to jobs where attention to detail is really important, such as testing. For a successful rejection, you should employ as many of these as you can.
Don’t, whatever you do, spell check your covering letter. Any competent applicant will spell check their covering letter. They will also proof read it for those cases were the word is spelled correctly, but they’ve sued the wrong one. Enhance your chances of failure and don’t do that. Word processors such as Microsoft Word and even Google Docs will make this difficult for your with their automatic squiggly underlining of spelling errors and autocorrect, so switch these features off, or simply ignore them.
Generic letters for the win
Why waste time by customising your covering letter for the job you’re applying for? Worse still by writing completely new covering letters for each job you would dramatically increase your chances of getting an interview. Keep your covering letter generic, use the same one for every job!
Font & Styling
For that extra special touch that will aid your cause, try the following:
different font sizes – doesn’t have to be much, a few points different
small fonts – when you mix up your font sizes, be sure to include some 8pt text in there, works like a charm!
font styles – mix italics, bold, drop shadows randomly
difference fonts – be subtle about this. Mix Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri and this will send the message that you’ve just cut and pasted your covering letter.
Indentation and Pagination
If you use indentation in your covering letter, it is essential that you make sure the level of indentation is inconsistent. Similarly, don’t paginate your letter correctly; if you can, put a page break just after a heading or start of a paragraph, continuing that paragraph on the next page. Make it as difficult for the hiring manager as possible.
These tips on their own are unlikely to lead to your desired rejection, but use them in conjunction with some of the other tips to further increase your chances.
The tone of your covering letter is a tricky one to get right because different hiring managers will be looking for different things. For most, the safe way to portray yourself as someone they don’t want to hire is to adopt an overly informal approach. Write to the hiring manager as if they are your mate, keep it personal and use words like “Hi”, “Cheers”.
Getting the job title wrong seems like such an easy thing to do, after all you could just write any job title there. However, if it is completely different to the one you’re applying for, then it might be seen as a minor lapse of concentration. Whereas if you use a job title that is related but obviously not the one advertised, then this shows that you’ve not really read the advert properly or you don’t care much for the position. For example, the advert shows “Software Tester”, you could put “Test Analyst” to score rejection points.
Wrong Job Completely
The caveat to the completely different job title is if you really go to town and make it look like you’re applying for a totally different job. For example, the advertised role is for a “Software Tester”, your covering letter could explain that you want to apply for the Astrophysics role then go on to explain about your passion for the stars and how you really like the look of the stellar cartography project at the company. That’s a surefire win for rejection.
Most hiring managers have sifted through hundreds of CVs and covering letters by the time they get to yours. They will be looking for covering letters that stand out and are easy to read. Don’t give them the satisfaction; instead, present them with a wall of text with very little punctuation or text breaks. Chances are they won’t even bother reading it, and consign you to the reject pile.
For added effect, make that wall of text 3 pages long. This will increase the probability of rejection by an order of magnitude.
In contrast to the overwhelm strategy is the underwhelm. Astound the hiring manage with your lack of enthusiasm for the position. For example, you could write something like “Please find my CV enclosed”.
Short, sweet, to the point and required minimal effort from yourself. Nothing says “I don’t care about this job” than a “CV enclosed” covering letter.
This article should have given you some surefire tips on how to get rejected from a job application. They are all very simple and easy, requiring minimal effort and passion. Remember, some hiring managers may react differently to some of them, but if they put you through to interview even though you’ve employed some of the best tips in this article, then chances are they either didn’t read your covering letter, or they are not a company worth working for.
Next time… How to complement your awful covering letter with an atrocious CV!