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Common cover letter mistakes to avoid

Job application and Cover letter

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.

Important Resume Cover Letter Guidelines

Cover Letter

Resume cover letters should be tailored specifically for each job  position you apply for. The overall theme is to make your documents employer-oriented and specifically aimed at meeting the company’s needs.

Get a Name –  Addressing your cover letter to a specific person will make sure your documents get to the right person. Try not to address it in a generic manner.

Start strong – Begin the first paragraph with a value-packed statement saying what you offer and how it ties into the company vacancy. Emphasize the job title so it can be eye-catching to a Hiring Manager. Reference your enclosed resume in the first paragraph, so the reader can move on to that document if they choose to. Not all cover letters are read but it’s much better to send one than not send one.

Meet company needs and requirements  – Firstly, the approach of a cover letter should be for quick and easy readability. Highlight your skills or qualifications with bullet points so that the employer can quickly see how you meet the position’s needs. Three to five bullets will suffice; more than that can look excessive.

Use the correct job posting terminology – Have a copy of the job specification or details near you when promoting yourself as you should use the terminology of the job posting so you and the employer begin to speak the same language.

Identify the most important job requirements – If the job posting has a list of 20 different requirements, those requirements closer to the top of the list are generally the most important of the group. Emphasize your skills and qualifications that match with the beginning of the list, and not the lesser tasks near the end.

Close with a Call to Action – For the closing paragraph, state that you’d appreciate the opportunity to explain how your skills match their needs during an interview. Explain how and when you will follow-up with them to schedule a mutually convenient meeting.

In summary, customizing these documents will take time, but the cover letter is going to be the document that will introduce your resume. It is worth the effort to make the match and capture the reader’s interest with any opportunity you have to do so, to better your chances to advance on to the interview.

You can do better with your CV cover letters

Cover Letter

If you are writing another cover letter, “To Whom It May Concern” may feel a little tired. Well, that is because it is. Here are several ways to spruce up the letter and show you are putting in more effort than your average job seeker is.

Try these instead:

Dear [hiring manager’s name]. With a little digging online, you can probably get a sense of whom the position reports to. Will the executive be the first person to open the cover letter in the applicant tracking system? Not exactly. Will it look like you did your homework? You bet.

Dear [recruiting manager’s name]. Again, with some online research, you can find out who is opening each résumé and cover letter in the system. Although calling the company may not always do the trick, you might as well try. Ask to be connected to the experienced hire recruiting team or someone in talent acquisition. Be honest: Say you want to personalize your cover letter and aim to connect with the professional managing that specific job requisition. At that point, you can also ask for the company’s formula for employees’ email addresses.

Dear Recruiting Department. If you hit some dead ends during your research, save this precious time for networking and go generic instead. Therefore, while the content matters most, even saying “recruiting department” will show a nice touch. They will not have time to wonder why you did not call the department to get a specific name, but they will see you went an extra step that goes a long way.

Dear [name of the department you are pursuing]. If you are pursuing a position in marketing, you cannot go wrong by addressing your letter, “Dear Marketing Department.” Even a small step like this will be noticed positively. In addition, your cover letter will likely reflect your marketing skills and experiences, thereby tying in the greeting nicely. The first course of action would be to find the name of the director who’s doing the actual hiring as mentioned above, but when all else fails, address it to the department.

Dear [name of referral]. Your networking has been paying off! If your neighbour or friend from Toastmasters or yoga offers to forward your résumé internally, then use his or her name in the letter. The email will definitely be read, because a referral has influence and stands apart from the thousands of generic résumés in the system. If the string of emails is separated but the cover letter and résumé are reattached elsewhere, at least you are referencing the referral in the letter and your introduction mentions it as such, too.

 

How to Create the Perfect Cover Letter and Resume

Research and analysis by ZipRecruiter of over 3 million resumes and cover letters has determined what constitutes the perfect 5 star resume.

According to their research, they have concluded that a good resume and cover letter consists of a number of different  and strong parts: how it describes past experience, how long it runs, what it includes, and what it leaves out. The main thing to remember, is to keep your resume and cover letter short and relevant, with a sections identifying your objective, a summary, Work history, and training.

When writing your resume resume and cover letter, take note of your written language skills and avoid using words that have negative effects on the way you are trying to present yourself. “We found that words that made the jobseeker seem like an inexperienced work-in-progress, like ‘first,’ ‘need,’ ‘hard,’ or ‘develop,’ had a very negative effect.”

Be aware of the keywords you use and how they effect the perceived resume quality. From the research, it was found that there was a strong correlation between keywords and resume quality.

It was found that approximately 24% of the resumes analyzed had a lower likelihood of getting a 5 star rating when including languages, personal interest, accomplishments, and hobbies. These were section to avoid.

Simple tips to improve your resume is to include phrases like  ‘thank you’ and try to display self confidence that you are the perfect candidate and will get the job done.

Finally, the last point is for those individuals who are new to the workforce or a particular profession and consider themselves a “work-in-progress”. Even if you do not have that much work experience, by showing confidence can overcome this.

The perfect resume

Source: ziprecruiter.com

Tips for Job Fairs and Interviews

Are you ready for  job fairs and interviews? You think a few resumes in your backpack, a pair of khakis in your closet and a general idea of what you want to do with your life is good enough. I have news for you. Here are a few tips to prepare yourself for any job fair.

Company research

Research the companies that will be at the fair. Look at their websites, read their press releases and search local newspapers for stories. Take not if company is growing or offering new products. Find out where the company is heading and how you could fit in and contribute to the company.

How do you look

Don’t show up with wrinkled, ragged or overly casual outfit. This sends out the wrong message that you are too lazy to look professional. Don’t wear clothing that shows too much skin. What may be appealing at club or bar will most likely be inappropriate when looking for a professional position. Like it not, you will be judged on your appearance.

The right introduction

When you send a resume to a company you usually include a cover letter. At a job fair, your cover letter can serve as an introductory greeting. Make sure letter is brief, but include the vital information about your qualification and skills.

Your resume

One of the most important things you can do is to create a resume that shows off your qualifications and work experience clearly and concisely. Make sure you get some one, like a career counselor or professional in the field, to proofread your resume before you hand it over to a potential employer. Take at least 20 copies printed on quality paper. Take a briefcase or leather attaché case. You will look more professional.

Who will be there?

Step one is to contact the career fair organizers and find out which companies will be there or do your own research. Many career fairs have website and list the participating companies. Once you have the list highlight the ones that interest you.

Presentation skills

Remember first impressions counts so polish up on your presentations skills for both job fairs and interviews. Do the same preparations as you would for a job interview and learn about the companies who will be at the job fair.

Show appreciation

Collect business cards at the fair and write a thank-you note to the representatives you met at the event. If you have the information, target their supervisors as well. Thank them for the time to speak with you or for making their representative available for the event. Don’t forget to add a sentence or two reiterating your strengths and interest in the job.

Follow up call

If you have not been told “no” or heard from a recruiter after the fair, follow up and check in with the company. Sometimes a company can take longer than expected to fill a position, so don’t be afraid and keep up with the hiring process. Some recruiters may put their job fair duties on hold after returning to work and dealing with day-to-day responsibilities. Making a call or send an email may remind them of their job fair follow up.

Good luck!!!