ArtsÂ employers often receive 50, 100, or even 300+ applications for each job opening, making outstanding cover letters critical. With this kind of intense competition, search committees seek any excuse to purge a file and narrow the pool. Yet hopeful applicants make all kinds of mistakes that get theirÂ materials immediately thrown into the â€œnoâ€ pile: poor writing, typos, not addressing key points in the description, not supporting claims, overusing the word â€œIâ€, emphasizing the wrong points, etc.
Here are some of my all-time favorite disqualifying statements from cover letters.Â And what makes theseÂ errors so amazing is that every item on this list is absolutely true.Â You canâ€™t make up this stuff!
Â Â Â Â Â 2.Â Do not staple a photograph to the right hand corner of your letter, particularly if youâ€™re a balding andÂ overweight middle-aged man.
Â Â Â Â Â 3.Â Your commitment to saving the environment is appreciated. But if you spill significant amounts of coffee on your letter, consider printing a new copy.
Â Â Â Â Â 4. A strong design can make your letterhead stand out.Â But avoid fonts where the letters resemble hearts or appear to have blood dripping from them.Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â 5. Reconsider replacing your cover letter to Dean Marianski with a hand-drawn cartoon including the quote bubble â€œIâ€™ve always wanted to work with Merv.Â Heâ€™s awesome!!!!!â€
Â Â Â Â Â 6. While itâ€™s critical to outline your philosophical take in a cover letter, some statements are best kept to yourself, such as â€œI believeÂ arts educators should not get married or have families because it shows a lack of commitment to the profession.â€
Â Â Â Â Â 7. Refrain from spending two paragraphs clarifying your time behind bars.Â (Save that for the interview.)
Â Â Â Â Â 8. Hereâ€™s one that I made (ouch!!!) as a compulsive document saver.Â After my letter was finished and in perfect condition, I subconsciously saved a couple last times before emailing it off.Â But in my haste, â€œcontrolâ€ and â€œSâ€ were pressed in the opposite order, adding two â€œsâ€™sâ€ to my document.Â This transformed the phrase â€œWith a strong background in music theory pedagogyâ€ to â€œWith ass strong background in music theory pedagogy.â€
Â Â Â Â Â 9. Even if you are extremely famous, do not replace your letters of recommendation with the phrase, â€œFor referrals, just talk to anyone in the music business.â€ Â Â Â
Â Â Â Â Â 10. Do not conclude by writing â€œI believe my outstanding record of success and diverse profile make me the perfect candidate for Eastern Iowa University.â€ At least not when the application is being send to Yale.
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â€œHands down, the most valuable resource available for aspiring musicians.â€
â€” Jeffrey Zeigler, Kronos Quartet