I have always believed that studying is a never-ending process, ......

I wonder if this a good start for a cover letter, or maybe i should start with another variation like:

Studying is a never-ending process, this is a motto i have followed my whole life

is there also anything wrong in using present perfect tense

i have followed

or should i use simple past

I followed

  • Your second question, about the correct tense to use, is better suited to English Language Learners. – David Richerby Dec 7 '14 at 17:05
  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about grammar/prose. – Jim G. Dec 7 '14 at 18:31

I hate to cut you short, but employers care far more about "I am attaching my resume in response to your recent announcement that you are looking for a [state the name of the position that's open and that you are applying for]" than for philosophizing/platitudes like "Learning is a lifelong process"

Do yourself a favor and keep your focus on the employer and the employer's need. When talking about yourself, the focus of your communication is exclusively on how your qualifications meet the prospective employer's needs.

Think of employers as babies. All babies ever think about is "Me, me, me ..." :) Babies are interested in you only insofar that you mean something good for them and are able to provide them with instant gratification :) Babies have a horribly short attention span, so if you say or do anything that's not of immediate interest and impact to them, you just lost their attention. Plan, coordinate and articulate your response accordingly.

I take it that you are asking your question because you are looking for a way to stand out. Here is one much more effective way (I am plagiarizing myself here):

"Employers rarely read your resume without reading your cover letter. One good way to stand out is to mention in your cover letter that you are pursuing an interest or area of interest of yours that just happens to push a hot button of theirs :) For example, if you are one of those who say that you love Python, that you are trying to be as close to being a crack Python programmer and that's how you got crazy about Machine Learning, your days as an unemployed individual are numbered :)"

And what if you don't have an area of interest that would push a prospective employer's hot button? Answer: go out and find yourself one! Otherwise, what are you doing in this field?

  • Agreed. "have always believed that studying is a never-ending process" sounds like drivel. Try to communicate useful information instead. – Nathan Cooper Dec 7 '14 at 12:13
  • Agreed. You are using too many words to say "I love to learn." – MJ6 Dec 7 '14 at 14:05
  • 2
    What's your evidence that anyone reads them at all? In places I'm familiar with, HR strips them off and uses them in the bottom of the corporate birdcage. – user13659 Dec 7 '14 at 15:14
  • 4
    @VietnhiPhuvan: is your experience necessarily typical of everyone else's? Thing is, you first made a claim, "Employers rarely read your resume without reading your cover letter". bmargulies didn't make the opposite claim that nobody does, merely that nobody at any of a certain set of places does. Of course you can rubbish personal anecdote since it fails to demonstrate any general trend, that's fair enough, but doing so equally rubbishes any claims from your experience :-) – Steve Jessop Dec 7 '14 at 16:08
  • 3
    Sure, but in this case it's 21% of those polled even by someone who believes it does rise, and is cherry-picking support for that position, and who has then in turn been cherry-picked to support it again. It seems to me quite likely that there really is a significant constituency for whom the sun in point of fact does not rise in the morning. This time of year's that group is clustered in Alaska/Canada/Scandaplaces/Finland/Russia in your analogy. bmargulies has a surprisingly high score on Stack Overflow for a toilet paper dispenser specialist. – Steve Jessop Dec 7 '14 at 16:21

I upvoted @VietnhiPhuvan's answer because I agree with him, but there is another element to this answer beyond the concept of "you're worrying about the wrong thing". Even though you should not belabor the cover letter (keep it simple and to the point), the tone of it can really set the stage for you without a lot of concentrated reading.

The passive voice in your writing will also lead to the same impression when someone is reading your resume. If they glance at your cover letter, read a couple of sentences and get such a passive tone from it, that tone will translate over directly as the first impression when reading your resume. It's not a "killer", but it doesn't have that impact a first impression should have.

When constructing your cover letter and your resume bullets, use action words. Instead of I have followed use I follow. Instead of I have always believed use I believe. If you use the words has, had or have in conjunction with some other verb rethink it. You'll almost always discover that a more "active" sentence will have more impact.

To answer the question specifically, present perfect is negative. Present or past tenses are the best, but use them appropriately. Use present tense for things you still do. Use past tense for things you did and are over or did and no longer do.


I assume you're applying for a job, not for a studentship. As such, emphasizing your love of study seems like a bad place to start: in fact, it might even be harmful, if the employer sees it as a hint that you're likely to disappear to go back to university. By all means mention your love of learning, since an employee who learns new things is likely to be an employee who gets better and better at their job. But remember to focus on what the potential employer is looking for.

Bear in mind that "study" implies much more commitment and intensity than "learning" – studying is typically something that takes hours a day, whereas you can learn something by reading a book for five minutes. If you just mean "learning", be sure to say that.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.