Does anyone really like cover letters? With the trend toward online applications, it’s tempting to ditch the cover letter altogether, or just write something simple.
However, cover letters are still important. They are an employer’s first introduction to you, and they need to be compelling in order to get a hiring manager to check out your resume. And while you know that your cover letter should be short, grammatically perfect, and free from typos, there are a few other mistakes to avoid if you want to get an interview.
If you’re struggling to avoid the following mistakes, contact Employment BOOST for best cover letter and resume writing services.
1. Making It All About You
When it really comes down to it, employers aren’t all that interested in what you’ve done in the past and how wonderful you are. They aren’t hiring you for what you’ve accomplished — they are hiring you because they need someone to do something for them. If your cover letter is all about you and what you have done and how successful you’ve been, employers probably aren’t going to call for an interview. If you focus on how you can leverage your experience and accomplishments into doing great things for them, and what you’re bringing to the table that will benefit them, you will have much more success getting interviews.
2. You Don’t Connect the Dots
Most employers will spend about 10 seconds skimming a cover letter — and even less time looking at a resume. If you are a career changer, have a short employment history, or you don’t have a lot of growth on your resume, employers aren’t going to spend a lot of time considering how you would fit into the position. They are going to move on to find someone who more obviously fits their needs.
To get an employer’s attention, connect the dots for him or her. Highlight a few key accomplishments in quantifiable terms or choose the most relevant experience and share how it meets the requirements of the job. Again, you want to focus on what you can do for the company, so make it clear that your skills and experience are a good match.
3. You Channel Negative Nelly
So, you’ve been out of the workforce for a while. Or you were fired or laid off. Or maybe you just really dislike your current career and job. Whatever the reason that you’re looking for a new job, your cover letter is not the place to tell your life story and justify your current situation. You might think that you’re helping your cause by being honest about gaps in your experience, but really all you are doing is highlighting them. Don’t feel like you need to defend your history, but rather highlight your accomplishments and what you can do for the company. You may be asked to explain gaps or other issues later, but the cover letter isn’t the place to get into details.
4. You’re Vague or Unoriginal
“I am perfect for this position because…” “I have excellent organizational skills and I am a team-player.” “I’m results oriented and work well in a fast-paced environment.” Are your eyes glazing over yet? Because a hiring manager’s will be. Using vague, overused and trite words and phrases to describe your skills and why you should be considered for the job is a fast-track to circular file land. Instead of just saying that you have great skills, provide examples demonstrating those skills — and let some things speak for themselves. If you are having trouble coming up with unique and compelling ways to describe your experience, work with a professional resume service to craft the perfect descriptions without overused language.
5. You Use the Same Letter for Every Job
You know how annoyed you get when you receive a letter in the mail that you know is just a form letter? You probably don’t like it too much. Now imagine you are hiring someone, and you receive a letter that was clearly sent to who knows how many other companies. It might even have a dead giveaway, like the wrong company name or position title. Are you going to call that person, or throw their resume in the garbage?
It takes time and effort, but you should always tailor your cover letters to the specific jobs you’re applying to. Show that you’ve done some research on the company and its culture; a company that’s a bit more casual might appreciate a slightly more informal tone with a pithy, attention-grabbing intro and a few anecdotes that reveal your personality, while a formal company requires a more formal and professional tone. Tell the reader why you are interested in working for that company, without veering into gushing super-fan territory — to demonstrate your engagement and interest in this particular position with this particular company.
Writing cover letters isn’t always easy, but if you focus on the employer’s needs and how you can fill them, it will become much easier.