What You Need to Know About Cover Letters
You may be a job seeker who doesn’t mind writing cover letters or you may think they are a complete waste of time. Some HR managers and recruiters put more emphasis on the cover letter than the resume. Not focusing on your cover letter can significantly reduce your chances of landing that job.
Some recruiters won’t even read your resume without a cover letter. So, now that we’ve established the value of the cover letter, here are some tips for crafting effective, attention-grabbing ones.
Make It Personal
Each letter should be addressed to a specific individual. In today’s world, there are many avenues available to find out the hiring managers or recruiters names. If all else fails, call the receptionist at the company and ask for it. Getting a letter addressed to Dear Sir/Madam may very easily get it cast aside. Having their name at the top will at least cause them to pause, which may be all it takes to get their attention and they may read through the rest of the letter.
Target Your Cover Letter
Hiring managers read hundreds of cover letters, and they can easily identify generic ones. It’s important to target each cover letter to the company. Do a little research on the company you’re interested in and add some details about current activities. They are looking for your specific skills, as well as how you think those skills fit into what they need. If you just make general statements about how companies today need what you have to offer, there’s a higher chance of your cover letter and resume getting tossed to the side and never really considered.
Showcase A Few Skills That Match the Job Description
Don’t talk about every skill you have. They are interested in the skills that match their job requirements. Show how your specific skills can help the company. Those should be the most important skills to you and the company, and you can always talk about your other skills during the interview process.
Cover Letters Set You Apart
It is difficult to stand out when hiring managers and recruiters have to sift through hundreds of resumes for any given job opening. Your cover letter gives you the chance to fill in any blanks left in your resume, such as employment gaps, transitions, achievements or anything else. Instead of being a supplement to your resume, your cover letter should be an extension of it to tell your complete career story to your potential employer.
Don’t Rewrite Your Resume
Your cover letter is not a smaller version of your resume. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you just rewrite it. Hiring managers already have your resume. Use the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the company’s needs and follow it immediately with how you can meet those needs. Your language in your cover letter doesn’t necessarily have to be as formal as the resume, but it shouldn’t be as informal as something like your LinkedIn profile.
Show Your True Self
Use this opportunity to show some of your personality. While hiring someone with the right skills is paramount, companies also want someone who will fit into the company culture. Writing in a natural tone will show your true self and help an employer decide if you would be a good fit with the team. If it doesn’t seem like you would fit in well, then you’ll save time by not going to an interview or getting hired, only to find out you simply don’t get along with your coworkers.
Sell Yourself In The Cover Letter
You can say whatever you want about yourself, so don’t hold back. Let them know what you have to offer, how you are the best fit for the position, and what your short- and long-term goals are. But remember, this is a one-page letter, so keep it concise. Get your point across clearly with the goal of making the HR manager impressed enough to want to meet you in person.
Don’t Rely on Spellcheck
When the letter is “finished”, the editing process starts. It is easy to want to simply click that spellcheck button and be done with it. That is a mistake. It may pick up some misspellings, but there are others that will get through. HR managers and recruiters have been known to throw out letters simply for a typographical error.
Have a Friend Read It
It’s easy to overlook errors when you’re focusing on many aspects of the job search, as well as trying to balance your personal life. Having correct grammar and spelling on everything is of critical importance. Careless mistakes reflect negatively on you and can quickly disqualify you from the position, no matter how innocent the error is. Ask a friend to read through the letter to make sure you haven’t left out words, and that it is clear. It only takes a few minutes and may be the difference between getting an interview or not.
Cover letters have never been more important, so crafting the perfect one will give your job hunt a nice boost.