The use of colloquial language can sound the death knell for an otherwise promising job application. Colloquialisms are a clear sign that your writing may have slipped into dangerous territory. However, using strictly formal language like you would in a legal brief won’t do you any favors either. However, in general you’re better off erring on the side of formality. Keep an eye out for the following colloquialisms in your cover letter, and if you find any, eliminate them.
– “Hey.” It may be tempting to use a casual greeting like “hey” in your cover letter to establish rapport and a conversational tone, but the salutation isn’t the best place to be casual. Stick to formal greetings like “Dear.”
– “U” or other texting lingo. If you spend a lot of your time texting, speaking in abbreviations may feel as natural as breathing for you. However, in a cover letter, texting abbreviations like “u” sticks out in a very negative way. Your letter should be brief, but you should make it that way by ensuring that it’s focused and tightly written, not by abbreviating words.
– Emoticons. Smiley faces and other emoticons may help convey emotion in casual online correspondence, but you should never use them in a cover letter.
– “Give me a shout.” Inviting a potential employer to follow up with you is always a good idea in a cover letter, but you should do it in a formal and understated way. Employers typically expect you to be at your most formal in the cover letter. Thus, if you display casual mannerisms there, they may think that you’ll be inappropriately casual at work.
– Ellipses or other unusual punctuation. The colloquial use of punctuation, such as ending a sentence with ellipses to convey a trailing-off sound, can backfire heavily in a cover letter. You want your letter to be as clear and concise as possible, and using uncommon punctuation can work against you.