Self-promotion is a very strange thing. The idea that you must make a commercial of yourself so that someone you've never met might give you approval is a bit alienating. How do you navigate this? What are you really all about? Who are you even? These are the types of questions you must confront when writing a cover letter, and I can help you out. Don't get the wrong idea though! I'm not going to tell you how to write a successful cover letter, but what I will do is tell you how not to write one. After all, knowing what not to do is how you reverse engineer your way to success.
Here are some excerpts from different cover letters I have written over the years. Most of these seemed like great ways to introduce myself to a hiring manager, but now I understand my follies in retrospect.
"I'm the guy who wrote that Closing Time song"
In a cover letter you're supposed to highlight your accomplishments, and it is okay to embellish a little just don't do what I did and overstep the embellishment threshold into what may or may not be an outright lie (it's a bit of a grey area, really)
"I am mildly excited about working for your company"
You can't teach honesty, and companies like intangibles. Unfortunately, being honest about mild interest isn't what your second choice, ahem, dream employer is looking for.
"When I'm not working I'm probably doing some pretty sweet parkour"
It is a good idea to share personal interest with your potential employer, if only to establish a more human, personable side. Just make sure that you don't list an interest that is widely considered awful and pointless.
"I've been known to sleep with co-workers but I've decided not to now that I am devoted to Christ"
If I've learned anything in my 72 years on this earth it's that sex and religion make people uncomfortable, so I would suggest you focus in on only one of those things.
"I am one-sixteenth Cherokee according to a relative I met once years ago, so if you have any obscure quotas ."
This is apparently racist.
"I hope that you will welcome my leather jumpsuit on casual Friday"
This sentence is a bit cocky considering it seems to imply that you've all but wrapped up the job; I would not recommend you include it. The leather jumpsuit however, is a fashion must.
"I have run onto the field naked at countless sporting events so I know a thing or two about commitment."
Another thing I've learned is that commitment is an attribute that society is fickle about. Sometimes commitment is an admirable quality and then sometimes you're not allowed to go to high school football games anymore, or follow your ex-wife to her boyfriend's house.
"I increased office sex appeal by 64% at my last job (Arby's)"
Employers love numbers, so include them as much as you can. I actually don't have any regrets about this particular excerpt.
"I have been Catfished several times but will continue to search for love "
This one hurts too much to comment on.
"Do you have any weed?"
But seriously though