So, you know how to write an impactful cover letter that sells, but as you’re doing the final proofread before hitting the “send” button to that dream employer, there are key things to check for – and to make sure you avoid!
Here are our top do’s and don’t’s when it comes to drafting the perfect cover letter.
- Send a tailored letter to each employer. Target a specific position.
- Address your letter to a named individual. Avoid “Dear Sir or Madam” and “to whom it may concern.” Always address your letter to the specific hiring manager when possible. Call the company and ask if you’re uncertain as to the correct contact. In the case that you are not able to identify this person, you may open with “Dear Hiring Manager for [name of position].”
- Use the first paragraph to grab the employer’s attention and highlight your company research.
- Use the second paragraph to speak to the specific requirements of the job, especially when responding to an ad or when you have a job description.
- Keep things simple. Using complicated, lengthy sentences will make your letter cumbersome and difficult to read for recruiters. Keep it articulate and easy to understand. Also, don’t use more than one page.
- Quantify and give examples of your skills and qualifications that prove that you can do what you say you can do.
- Mention the skills and characteristics that are the most impressive. Remember, you only have a few seconds to make an impact, so don’t make them search for your best skills.
- Try to answer the question, “Why should I hire this person?” Always mention what makes you better than the other candidates for this same position. Do this by indicating how you can add value.
- Avoid negative statements – this includes previous jobs, supervisors, etc.
- Leave it up to the recruiter or hiring manager to contact you. Unless you are specifically discouraged from doing so, let the person know when you will be contacting them and then do it. You will greatly increase your odds of getting interviews if you call them instead of waiting for a call.
- Use a cover letter to apologize for grades, lack of experience, etc. Instead, present all of the positive things you offer.
- Send out mass mailings of your cover letter and résumé. This has extremely low odds for success in today’s job market. Personalize and individualize each letter.
- Focus your letter on what the company can do for you. Rather, tell them what you can do for them. Focus on how you can contribute to the success of the organization.
- Walk step-by-step trough your résumé. A recruiter can read your résumé. Use your cover letter to highlight the things that you want to call attention to.
- Forget to personally sign the letter if sending in hard copy.