3 Cover Letter Essentials & 3 Huge Mistakes
While resume writing can be tricky, cover letter writing can pose a significant challenge, even to those with strong writing skills. At Resume Writing Group, we can create eye-catching cover letters for you, but if you do decide to write your own, be sure to use this list of cover letter essentials.
1. Personalize Each Letter
Never send out a generic cover letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern.” You must do some research and figure out which person at a company would be the best recipient for your cover letter. Do some research about this person, as well, to better identify what might be important to them personally.
When there is a job posting available, this usually will include the name of the person responsible for collecting and review resumes and cover letters. If you are simply sending in a cover letter and resume to companies that seem like a good fit for you, it can be trickier to figure how who should receive these documents.
Most company websites will have a section entitled careers or perhaps career opportunities, and there may be some contact information posted in that section. In some cases, the hiring manager might be part of the human resources department, so you also can take a lot at that section to determine the names of individuals that might be in the position to make hiring decisions.
2. Generate Some Interest
Generally, you will want to start off your letter by introducing yourself in an interesting manner. Don’t simply start by writing, “My name is Joe Smith, and I am a software designer with four years of professional experience.” As you will be signing your name on the bottom of the letter and your name also appears on your resume, it just isn’t necessary to start a letter with this type of dull information.
It would be far better to state that you are an experienced software designer with a passion for finding software solutions for each of your clients. You talk about what you love about your industry – helping businesses grow, helping companies become more productive, training employees so that they can maximize their use of your software.
If you have a particularly interesting story about how you became interested in your profession, that also might be a good way to start your cover letter. For instance, perhaps you are applying for a job as a nurse and might briefly describe an incident in your past that led you to choose that profession.
3. Focus on Your Strengths, But Be HumbleIn a cover letter, you want to showcase your skills, but you don’t want to come off as arrogant. Many people make the mistake of coming off as a braggart and waste time discussing their own accolades rather than focusing on what the hiring manager wants to see. A hiring manager is looking for job candidates that can handle the job requirements, fit in well with the company culture, and help to make the company stronger. Your whole focus should be convincing the hiring manager that you are excited about helping the company attain its goals and that your skills could be of benefit. Don’t focus on yourself or what you want to achieve personally. Instead, focus on how you can become an integral part of the hiring manager’s team. This means you will need to do some research. Aside from reading the job description carefully, study the company website and do some research to learn about the latest news and goals put forth by company representatives. When you have a clear understanding of how a company is run and the company goals and mission, it will be easier to tailor your cover letter to align with those goals.
Before you start writing, make sure you don’t commit these two huge cover letter mistakes:
Mistake #1 – Don’t Simply Rewrite the Resume
A cover letter provides you with an opportunity to expand on your resume, it’s not simply a place to rehash everything on the resume. We see this all the time, and it wastes a huge opportunity to showcase who you are and what you can bring to the company beyond your work experience and education.
Typically, hiring managers will read through resumes and create a pile of possible job candidates. Then they will skim through the cover letters in that pile to identify the candidates that will bring a strong work ethic and a great personality to the table. You might talk about a specific work experience or even two, going into more detail than you did in your resume, but don’t simply write a bunch of sentences describing each work experience.
For instance, perhaps you managed people at each of your work experiences. Rather than just state you managed a set number of people, describe why you like managing employees and what skills you’ve gained from these experiences. This paints a picture of your managerial skills, and the hiring manager can better envision what you might be like on the job.
Mistake #2 – Keep It Short
Resumes usually should just be one page in length, and cover letters are just the same. You might be able to come up with three or four pages of funny anecdotes and compelling reasons why you are the greatest job candidate the world has ever seen, but if your cover letter runs over a single page, it’s unlikely that a hiring manager will bother reading past that first page. Keep it short and proofread it very carefully to ensure there are no careless spelling, grammar or syntax errors.
Mistake #3 – Failing to Follow Directions
When you read a job posting, sometimes it will say to include a cover letter and sometimes it will state explicitly that you should not send in a cover letter. While we are happy to write a great cover letter for you, we strongly advise you to omit this letter anytime a company’s job posting specifically asks you not to send one.
Why? First, this may indicate that the hiring manager or hiring team simply does not have time to read hundreds of cover letters as well as hundreds of resumes. Second, this showcases your inability to follow directions. You may have a fantastic cover letter, but if a hiring manager tells you not to send it, resist the urge to do so anyway.
Again, writing a good cover letter can be tricky. In addition to our resume writing services, we also can provide you with top-quality cover letters. So, if you’d prefer to have a professional resume writer create your cover letter, the team at Resume Writing Group is here to help. We know just what to include in a cover letter and will create a dynamic, eye-catching document that features all our aforementioned cover letter essentials.
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