PayScale’s VIP Blog Roundup: Does Your Cover Letter Make You Sound Like a Robot?

Strange as it might seem to most of us, there are people out there who love various parts of the job search process. Some like meeting new people, or feel energized by the interview process; others see exciting new potential in every networking connection or job posting. But even those job-searching Pollyannas would be hard-pressed to find an upside to one part of the process: writing a cover letter that grabs readers' attention, expresses their qualifications, and doesn't mindlessly repeat the same material as their resume. In this week's roundup, we look at one expert's advice on writing a cover letter that reads as if it's written by a human, plus a few reasons why your job hunt is stalled, and tips to make your resume stand out ... even when the hiring manager only takes eight seconds to skim it.

3 Tips to Avoid ‘To Whom It May Concern’

The five little words, "To Whom It May Concern," have been used to kick off traditional cover letters for decades. We are programmed to begin our formal introduction to companies this way. Having been taught that this was the correct salutation for a business letter of this kind, most of us don't even question it. But, maybe we should. At best, the phrase doesn't do us any favors; it just meets expectations and gets the job done. These days, we can do better.

Headhunters Are Judging Your Grammar and Usage

At first glance, it seems unfair: no one would expect an editor to build a website in order to prove that she has the chops to catch stray commas, but woe betide the software developer who submits a resume with a typo in it. In this era of instantaneous results and 24/7 availability, is it really reasonable for hiring managers to expect perfection in terms of punctuation, spelling, and so on?

3 Lessons From History’s First Cover Letter, Written by Leonardo da Vinci

Cover letters have been with us for more than 500 years, since Leonardo da Vinci sent one to the Duke of Milan in 1482, enumerating his many talents. More surprising than the fact that we have Leonardo to thank for yet another invention? The realization that his letter, the first of its kind in history as far as we know, still has a lot to teach us about how to write this tricky document.

3 Ways to Write a Cover Letter That Actually Works

There are a lot of contenders for "worst part of the job search process," but writing cover letters has to be right up there at the top of the list. Trying to hook hiring managers' attention without sounding like a caricature of a used car salesman or just regurgitating your resume is a challenge worthy of early-Mad Men Don Draper. So how can you get their attention, without feeling cheesy or wasting everyone's time?

When It Comes to Job Applications, Get Personal

No one would advise a job applicant to share the personal details or his or her life when angling for a job. But there's one area in which getting personal really makes a difference in terms of your odds of getting hired, and that's the cover letter. In short, you better seem like you know something about the company, or your resume is probably going to get tossed in the trash.