On a recent job interview I went on, one of the interviewees made a point of telling me my cover letter was the best he’d ever seen and he was going to borrow it.
It might not have landed me the job, but it certainly helped secure me an interview. What made this letter stand out from the others they received? Here are a few dos and don’ts to assist you in writing that super letter that helps get you in the door:
• Remember that this is your one time to make a good impression.
• Use a persuasive tone.
• Be positive and upbeat.
• Allow a small sampling of your personality to shine through and make them feel like they must get to know you better.
• Use the opportunity to peak the employer’s interest.
• Tell the employer which position you are applying for.
• Include relevant experience and education.
• Highlight skill sets that they are looking for.
• Showcase your knowledge about the company and industry.
• Show the employer how your skills are going to help them.
• Avoid over use of “I”. I can do this… I have these skills… I did this…etc.
• Make sure you do your homework and tailor the letter specifically to the job and company.
• Keep the cover letter to one page.
• Make sure you include all the pertinent contact information for them and you.
• Personalize the contact information – find out the name of the person who will be reading the resumes.
• End the letter explaining how you will follow up.
• Proofread, proofread, proofread.
• Make sure you apply in the manner the employer has laid out – whether by fax, email, or hard copy.
• Use a generic cover letter – that will ensure it goes right into the garbage.
• Wait until the last minute to apply – get it in as soon as possible.
• Just regurgitate what’s in your resume – cover letters should compliment not just copy your resume.
• Write the story of your life - keep the details pertinent to the specific job you are applying for.
• Use run on sentences – short and to the point sells you better.
• Write with passive verbs or voice.
• Make any typos!
• Just say you look forward to hearing from them – take charge and say you will call to follow up within a specific timeframe.
• Include an obvious and redundant sentence such as, I have enclosed my resume.
• Forget to include your resume and indicate enclosures on the bottom of the cover letter.
Remember your cover letter is strictly about selling you. It’s the one opportunity you have to blow your own horn and get your foot in the door. Don’t hold back – this is no time for being shy or humble.
Write it, read it, reread it, and then have someone else read it again. Make your passion shine through and hopefully you’ll hear those magic words – you’ve got the job!