The ladies from Elarie Consulting are back with some goodness of knowledge about cover letters. Yes, we ALL hate them but they WILL make a difference in your career. Read below for 6 tips to put to practice this weekend when browsing for new opportunities!
Ah, the dreaded cover letter! It’s incredibly difficult to sit down, stare at the computer screen, and start selling yourself to someone that you don’t know anything about and can’t physically see.
Cover letters feel like a sick game that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals are just putting you through to see if you can tough it out between now and the potential job offer. And there are so many questions that go along with writing them.
How do you know what you’re supposed to write? What if they don’t like what you have to say? How far back into your life and history are you supposed to go? Isn’t most of this already covered on your resume? Is anyone actually reading these things?
We’re not going to sugar coat it for you – it’s tough. However, there are a few things you should take into consideration when you write your next cover letter. If you follow these tips, not only will you find that writing cover letters will start to become easier, but figuring out how to best sell yourself is going to give you more of an edge when it comes time for that interview.
Tip #1 – Actually Write a Cover Letter
We get asked all the time – Do I actually need to write a cover letter? Yes. But what if the company didn’t specify that I had to write one to go along with my resume and/or application? Write it anyways!
If you’re applying to a job online amongst hundreds (if not thousands) of other applicants, why would you want to give yourself one more reason to get lost in the pile? Believe it or not, your resume is often not the first impression. Your cover letter is! That is why creating this personalized document of goodness that will fall into the hands of the hiring manager is so important.
Tip #2 – Personalize Each Cover Letter
No two cover letters that you send out to any two different companies (or different jobs) should ever look the same. At the very least, if you tailor nothing else, make sure to properly address the:
- Job Title
- Hiring Manager’s name (if possible)
We hear from recruiters all the time about applicants that are sending off generic cover letters that never once list out what job they’re applying for, for which company, and they take no time to even research who might be reading the letter. This is their BIGGEST pet peeve, and a sure-fire way to make sure you end up in the “no” pile. Try and make your cover letter as personalized as possible! (Use LinkedIn in your favor! Find the HR person’s name in company profile).
Tip #3 – Don’t Just Repeat Your Resume
A cover letter should never be a paragraphed version of your resume. Your cover letter is going to be associated hand-in-hand with your resume, so it doesn’t need to just be a verbatim repeat of all the same information. This is your time to talk about what you have to offer in this position. What will make you the best fit? How can you directly make an impact on the company? Remember – this document is supposed to be explaining why you want to work for the company. This is your time to shine!
Tip #4 – Keep It Concise
It’s important to stick to 2-3 paragraphs when it comes to writing a cover letter. While you should definitely take this time to properly and accurately articulate what is great about yourself, don’t get overly wordy. Sticking to a few paragraphs is honestly all that a hiring manager is going to be willing to read. If you feel that you need to write a little bit more, just don’t exceed 1 page!
Tip #5 – Don’t Start Apologizing
If it’s visible in your resume that you have gaps in your employment history or not every skill that they are looking for, don’t take this time to start apologizing for your shortcomings. Phrases like “despite my limited experience” are incredibly harmful to your chances of moving up the career ladder. Instead of showcasing your weaknesses, play to your strengths! Make sure your cover letter has a positive tone and feel, and take a closer look at your skills because your talents and abilities are transferable – otherwise we’d all be stuck doing the same thing forever and ever and ever and ever…
Tip #6 – Revise, Edit and Repeat!
Another huge insight that we often hear from recruiters is that applicants are not taking the time to properly check their spelling and grammar. We suggest not just reading over your cover letter for spelling, grammar, and formatting issues, but handing it off to someone else. I know that I can read through something I write 10 times, and never find a misspelled word, but then when I pass it along – there are 5 that should have been staring me right in the face!
And finally, when it comes to cover letters – don’t over think it. Before you sit down to write, try, and answer the question “Tell me about yourself?” If you can figure out a clear and concise way to narrow your career story verbally, then you’re already on the right track!
Got any successful cover story tips to share? We want to hear what has worked for you in the past! Comment below and let’s talk some more about the best way to convince hiring managers to pick up the phone and call us in for interviews!
This post is in partnership with Elarie Consulting. to bring you insightful, professional knowledge about career development.