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Dad thinks an example in my cover letter is too "cheesy." Wants it more generic. Who is right?

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  • Jan 9th, 2018 11:57 pm
[OP]
Newbie
May 14, 2015
20 posts
5 upvotes

Dad thinks an example in my cover letter is too "cheesy." Wants it more generic. Who is right?

Hey guys so I've been working on my cover letter and there was one part where I included an example and I'm not sure about it. I'm trying to give an example of my communication and presentation skills but it might be sounding a bit too cheesy. Here's the paragraph:
I have demonstrated and built exceptional written and verbal communication skills through my HBA Economics and Accounting degree and through serving a wide array of customers/clients over the course of numerous work experiences including at Veterans Affairs Canada, MAESD, Tim Hortons, CityName Children's Museum, and The Heart & Stroke Foundation. During a course called 'Economics of the Canadian Banking & Financial System' we had a group project; one of the members fell sick and was unable to contribute much to the group. This had created a moral dilemma and internal conflict in the group. Group members did not believe this member deserved the same grades as the rest of the group but at the same time did not want to remove a member from the group for an illness they had no control over. I used my communication skills to hear every group member's perspective and to find a solution that would satisfy everyone. I offered the sick member to record his part of the presentation from the hospital which he gladly agreed to do. Although he could not contribute to any of the written component, the professor really appreciated his initiative to participate despite his illness. Our group attained the highest mark on the presentation component of the assignment. As a result of clear communication and my ability to remain composed during this conflict, we successfully accomplished the task at hand, and have all formed close friendships lasting to this day.
My dad wants me to write something about how I worked in a very fast paced environment at Tim Hortons (which I did, drive-thru in the busiest one in my city), while at the same time ensuring a high quality of customer service for each customer which resulted in forming numerous connections and returning/regular customers.

Is this part too cheesy for a cover letter? The rest of my cover letter is ..rigid so I wanted to demonstrate a bit of personality. Should I stick with what I currently have or change it?
41 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2013
3419 posts
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Woodbridge
What is the job you are applying for? Based on the job, they may want to see communication skills related to clients, vendors, staff working under you, superiors etc. This anecdote demonstrates conflict mediation skills. Is this a skill you want to highlight for the job(s) you are applying to?

Also, one edit: During a course called 'Economics of the Canadian Banking & Financial System,' we had a group project (missing comma after System)
Deal Addict
May 4, 2014
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Toronto, ON
Pancake23 wrote: we had a group project; one of the members fell sick and was unable to contribute much to the group. This had created a moral dilemma and internal conflict in the group. Group members did not believe this member deserved the same grades as the rest of the group..
To me, you just sound like someone who uses every opportunity to take credit while using those around you as your stepping stones. You made every effort to distance yourself from the group to make it sound like you had no part in the conflict. A true saint.
Pancake23 wrote: I used my communication skills to hear every group member's perspective and to find a solution that would satisfy everyone
You made me read 4 lines of text to hear you brag about your communications skills?
Jr. Member
Oct 15, 2008
171 posts
71 upvotes
Windsor
So in the paragraph are you trying to indicate a) written and verbal communication skills b) ability to remain composed c) ability to advocate for others or d) lead a team to a decision? Your example isn't a precise method of describing your lead point and TBH, confuses me enough to think you don't have exceptional written communication skills (I've worked in HR for 15+ years). What it appears is that you're trying to write one thing that explains everything. That doesn't work. Focus on what are you really trying to tell an employer and go from there. To your dad's point, its better and more focused, but again, what point are you trying to make - customer service? communication skills? They have different examples to prove them and you really shouldn't overlap them. Best of luck to you!
[OP]
Newbie
May 14, 2015
20 posts
5 upvotes
jvnanu wrote: What is the job you are applying for? Based on the job, they may want to see communication skills related to clients, vendors, staff working under you, superiors etc. This anecdote demonstrates conflict mediation skills. Is this a skill you want to highlight for the job(s) you are applying to?

Also, one edit: During a course called 'Economics of the Canadian Banking & Financial System,' we had a group project (missing comma after System)
Thanks for the edit, I am applying for a Junior Financial Analyst position with the Ontario government. Upon second thought, I think conflict resolution is probably not the most relevant skill that would fit the criteria here. What about the part about Tim Hortons and a fast paced environment, etc.?
er34er34 wrote: To me, you just sound like someone who uses every opportunity to take credit while using those around you as your stepping stones. You made every effort to distance yourself from the group to make it sound like you had no part in the conflict. A true saint.
You made me read 4 lines of text to hear you brag about your communications skills?
Well as a low key guy that has a preference of building relationships by interacting with people and letting them form their own conclusions I'm not exactly a fan of the brag fest that are cover letters if it helps you feel any better. Got any suggestions to improve it?
chew1e wrote: So in the paragraph are you trying to indicate a) written and verbal communication skills b) ability to remain composed c) ability to advocate for others or d) lead a team to a decision? Your example isn't a precise method of describing your lead point and TBH, confuses me enough to think you don't have exceptional written communication skills (I've worked in HR for 15+ years). What it appears is that you're trying to write one thing that explains everything. That doesn't work. Focus on what are you really trying to tell an employer and go from there. To your dad's point, its better and more focused, but again, what point are you trying to make - customer service? communication skills? They have different examples to prove them and you really shouldn't overlap them. Best of luck to you!
Thanks for the feedback. Do you think the part about Tim Hortons would be a good one to highlight customer service/communication skills? Or would an example from another workplace be a better fit over here?
Deal Addict
Sep 22, 2013
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I would agree that the example you have is too specific and I suppose ‘cheesy’.

Something more generic would be more relevant as a covering letter for a position in the Provincial Government.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 22, 2015
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Pancake23 wrote: Thanks for the edit, I am applying for a Junior Financial Analyst position with the Ontario government. Upon second thought, I think conflict resolution is probably not the most relevant skill that would fit the criteria here. What about the part about Tim Hortons and a fast paced environment, etc.?

Well as a low key guy that has a preference of building relationships by interacting with people and letting them form their own conclusions I'm not exactly a fan of the brag fest that are cover letters if it helps you feel any better. Got any suggestions to improve it?



Thanks for the feedback. Do you think the part about Tim Hortons would be a good one to highlight customer service/communication skills? Or would an example from another workplace be a better fit over here?
IMO all of it is too wordy for a cover letter.... poor HR employee who has to read dozens of these a day....

I'd keep it short and sweet, without giving any too-specific examples.... save your bragging for the interview.
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Nov 2, 2013
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I'm not an expert on your field but from experience it's too long for a cover letter. Most of the time they just look at it as a checkbox to be written off on the hiring checklist, so as long as it's somewhat decent and relative, then they are concerned most about your experience on the resume. Or for a lot of positions employers just don't read it. They'll just give it a quick few second glimpse and either move towards or not move towards your resume.
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Deal Expert
Jun 30, 2006
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Way too long and wordy for a cover letter.
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Dec 27, 2009
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That is just embarrassing. Do yourself a favour and completely delete that crap out of there. Your dad is right. Not only is it cheesy, but it is also poorly written to the point that it will hurt your chances more than help. Cover letters should touch on your skills/strong points that pertain to the desired skills for the job you are applying for, but not in this type of detail.
[OP]
Newbie
May 14, 2015
20 posts
5 upvotes
okay thanks for the feedback guys. Seems like I have a long way to go before getting anywhere near half decent at this stuff. I'll change it up to a work experience and try to make sure the skill I'm highlighting is relevant to the position somehow...sigh
Sr. Member
Jan 14, 2010
665 posts
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Central Ontario
OP, save that as an interview anecdote; it would work much better in a verbal format (and often interviews ask for a situation, action, response) and you could use it to highlight whatever quality is asked about (team work, conflict, deadline pressure, inclusion, etc.)

Cover letters should be short and sweet. People will toss aside your long paragraph, or worse, you won't hit any of the machine read algorithms.
[OP]
Newbie
May 14, 2015
20 posts
5 upvotes
Hey guys, upon advice from you all, I edited this segment of my cover letter. Please suggest any further tips or changes I can implement. Thanks.

I have exceptional written and verbal communication skills demonstrated and built through my HBA Economics and Accounting degree and through serving a wide array of customers/clients over the course of numerous work experiences including at Veterans Affairs Canada, MAESD, Tim Hortons, London Children's Museum, and The Heart & Stroke Foundation. Specifically at Tim Hortons, I had to often work at the drive-thru in one of the busiest locations in the city. I regularly served irate customers in a very fast paced work environment and ensured customer satisfaction. At Veterans Affairs Canada, I frequently interacted with veterans dealing with various mental distress and ensured they received the appropriate care and support.

Any suggestions? Also, is it cool if I can inbox someone who's familiar with cover letter's to discuss mine in its entirety?
Last edited by Pancake23 on Jan 4th, 2018 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
[OP]
Newbie
May 14, 2015
20 posts
5 upvotes
OldMarriedGuy wrote: I would agree that the example you have is too specific and I suppose ‘cheesy’.

Something more generic would be more relevant as a covering letter for a position in the Provincial Government.
Is the revised edition better?
Chickinvic wrote: That is just embarrassing. Do yourself a favour and completely delete that crap out of there. Your dad is right. Not only is it cheesy, but it is also poorly written to the point that it will hurt your chances more than help. Cover letters should touch on your skills/strong points that pertain to the desired skills for the job you are applying for, but not in this type of detail.
Appreciate the tough love. Any suggestions on the revised edition?
clseea wrote: That was exhausting to read for a cover letter
Damn :/ See revised edition please. I'm evidently not really good at these
Sr. Member
Sep 29, 2007
576 posts
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Port Colborne
yikes why would that be on a cover letter. maybe on a linkedin page
Newbie
Oct 9, 2017
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23 upvotes
Pancake23 wrote: Hey guys, upon advice from you all, I edited this segment of my cover letter. Please suggest any further tips or changes I can implement. Thanks.

I have exceptional written and verbal communication skills demonstrated and built through my HBA Economics and Accounting degree and through serving a wide array of customers/clients over the course of numerous work experiences including at Veterans Affairs Canada, MAESD, Tim Hortons, London Children's Museum, and The Heart & Stroke Foundation. Specifically at Tim Hortons, I had to often work at the drive-thru in one of the busiest locations in the city. I regularly served irate customers in a very fast paced work environment and ensured that customers were satisfied with my service. At Veterans Affairs Canada, I frequently interacted with veterans dealing with various mental distress and ensured they received the appropriate care and support.

Any suggestions? Also, is it cool if I can inbox someone who's familiar with cover letter's to discuss mine in its entirety?
That first sentence should be in the opening paragraph. It serves to show all of the various experiences you've had. Unless you have all of those work experiences included in your resume, I don't see why you should list all of them in your cover letter. Then in the examples, you focus a couple of those experiences and expand on how those experiences indicate that you have the skill-set that they're looking for. Also, it's a run-on sentence. I counted 5 "and", which is too many for one sentence. Most of the time, I would only use it one time in a sentence and then use "as well as" if I'm making another addition. Next, "demonstrated and built" is unnecessary. Just using "demonstrated" is good enough and it helps with the too many "and" problem.

Also, your example doesn't show that you have written skills. It's just all about how you verbally communicated with others. If I were you, I wouldn't even say that I have exceptional written skills. It's right there for the reader to see. You don't have to give an example of it when the example is in how well you write the cover letter.
Last edited by kalso87 on Jan 5th, 2018 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Sep 12, 2007
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Greely
None of this should be in a cover letter (original or revised). That’s an answer to an interview question and doesn’t belong on paper.
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2017
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OP,
- if you want to highlight communication skills - show it in your writing style.
- if you want to show your detailed oriented - show it in your editing
- if you want to show your creative - show it in the way you present your cover letter (avoid fancy backgrounds/graphics)
- if you want to show you're a problem solver - tell a story how you saved the company money, team building, process improvement. Keep it simple and enticing enough that they want to call you in for an interview to hear more
Deal Addict
Dec 31, 2007
4581 posts
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Richmond Hill
1. IMO, your example was not an example of exceptional verbal communication skills, but rather good conflict resolution and team building initiatives (which are all good). So, this would be a good example to bring up in an interview if asked.
2. The purpose of a cover letter is not to read examples, but rather short and concise reasons why you are a good candidate for the role, such as relevant a skill set and experiences. Your example does not fit this context, and therefore should be removed. This is a better reason for removing it, rather than it being "cheesy", which is neither here nor there.
3. While your first sentence in the paragraph highlights your skills and how you developed them (which is relevant in a cover letter context and can remain), it is a really long run-on sentence. It needs to be broken up.

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