The main purpose of cover is to inform and gain the interest of a prospective employer to read your resume. However, in many cases, a cover letter not only bores people but in some instances offends them. The majority of hiring managers don’t even read cover letters, but do prefer candidates that include one with their resume.
Cover letters are not easy to write and in many instances are left to the last minute and thrown together before attaching them to the resume. A cover letter can make or break your chances of being called for an interview. It is your opportunity to convey your skills, accomplishments and qualifications in a fresh and unique way. It is your cover letter that helps you to express yourself and demonstrate how savvy you are in marketing yourself.
All too often, job seekers destroy their resume and chances of being called for an interview with a half-hearted or downright terrible cover letter. A well written letter will entice the reader to review your resume or immediately place it in the trash bin.
Here are tips on how to write a good cover letter and common mistakes to avoid in your cover letter:
- Never focus too much on yourself. Companies want to know what you can do for the company.
- Even though many employers don’t even read your cover letter, it is still important to include one with every job application and resume.
- Unless you are world-famous, never start your letter stating your name given the fact that your name is on your resume.
- Avoid including details of every single job you have had. Instead focus on the jobs that are relevant to the position and the skills that will contribute to your success.
- Don’t be afraid to show your desire to be interviewed. Come right out and ask for an interview. Then, take your specific action a step farther and tell the recipient that you will contact him or her in a specified period of time to arrange an interview appointment.
- Keep your letter short, concise, informative, to the point. and not longer than one page unless you are applying for a managerial or executive position. The rule goes for your resume. Think of your cover letter as the highlights reel of your career.
- Cover letters are not the place for you to express to your potential boss your personal hardships, struggles, or reasons you were laid off. Focus on your achievements.
- Make sure you express what you can do for the company and not what the company can do for you.
- Make sure you address your letter to the correct person and a general “ Dear Personal Director” or “ To whom it may concern”. It is just plain lazy and disrespectful not finding out the name of the hiring manager. A simple call to the company will provide this information.
- Make sure to tailor your cover letter for the specific job your are applying for. Your letter should mirror the job ad. Employers see so many cover letters that it’s easy for them to tell when you’re using a one-size-fits-all approach.
- Don’t rehash your entire resume in your letter. Rather focus on a few examples of your work that show what you can bring to the position at hand.
- Use your cover letter to express how you can contribute to the company and not how much you love the company.
- Be sure your cover letter uses a standard business-letter format. It should include the date, the recipient’s mailing address and your address.
- Avoid focusing too much on training and educational qualifications. It is better to give more attention to your experiences and job related skills you have gained.
- Make sure you re-read your letter a few times and do a spell check. It must be letter perfect before you send it. Basic grammar errors and typos can end up costing you an interview. Your letter reflects your ability to write and communicate.