Fill cover letters with C.R.A.P.
Nobody knows how many cover letters are actually read and many recruiters acknowledge that they are an unnecessary waste of time. However, there are still many hiring managers that will take the time to read your carefully spell-checked letter and expect it to be filled with a load of C.R.A.P. before considering your application. So, give them what they want.
Be creepy. Job postings rarely include the name of the person which the cover letter should be addressed to. This is a test to see how creepy you can be. You’ll pass this first trial if you’re able to use your superior stalking skills to figure it out through LinkedIn and the company website. Bonus points are awarded if they’ve made it extra difficult and you have to phone Human Resources to discover “to whom it may concern.”
Write like a real person. If the company wanted to hire a robot, they probably wouldn’t be interviewing real people. Are you a real person? If you are, write like one. Long-winded sentences like “I wish to convey my sincere interest in the position of Dishwasher at your establishment and have thus attached my curriculum vitae for your consideration” don’t sound like they’re written by a human, let alone one that lives in this century. Rather than wishing to convey your interest, tell them you’re interested.
Demonstrate awareness. In other words, do your research so that you can reference news that affects their business and show how your skills benefit their operation. For example, if you’ve done your online creeping and have found that the hiring manager posted an article about the special needs of small businesses on LinkedIn, you can reference that article in your letter and demonstrate how you would be able to meet those small business needs within their company. By showing that you are aware of the company’s activities, you prove that you’ve done your research.
Keep it positive. A hiring manager wants to hire the best candidate for a position, not someone who is admittedly underqualified or who doesn’t love what the company does. Each self-criticism is equivalent to writing “I’m not good enough for the job” and including a negative remark about the company is like signing yourself up to be blacklisted from all future job opportunities there.