Did you know that one of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is not writing a cover letter? For many of us, it might seem like a dated piece of paper. The truth is that your cover letter is an essential part of your job search.
Sometimes it might seem like cover letters are so old-school that there’s no point in bothering with them. However, a cover letter gives you the chance to craft a narrative that aligns with the position and the company. That’s big news in an era of automated resume sorting. You owe it to yourself to create a general cover letter that can be used and tailored for several different jobs.
When you write a resume, you’re often contained to just one page, and you’re pressed to fit in the relevant keywords that AI wants to find. Cover letters let you speak openly without needing to integrate specific buzz words. You’re able to establish your value proposition and stand out from the rest of the applicants.
What to avoid
Make sure you don’t send a generic cover letter. That’s never going to work and often turns employers off. If you’re not willing to take the time to personalize the letter, why would an employer take the time to get to know you? Employers are evaluating a lot of information when they look at your cover letter, including your ability to communicate clearly.
What should a cover letter contain?
Every great cover letter has a stellar first line. The opening line is everything and directly influences whether someone continues reading or tosses it (and your resume) into the slush pile. The easiest way to do this is to relate yourself directly to the company and the position. Make sure you understand both the position and the company when writing this very important first paragraph. This is your chance to show how you can directly impact the organization.
Equally important is letting the reader know that your cover letter isn’t the same one you send to every job. Whenever possible, you should try to create an opener that’s designed to showcase your skills and experience specific to the job you’re submitting the letter to.
The body of the letter is important, too. Make sure you’re demonstrating your proof that certain skills and duties are within your wheelhouse. You can do this by creating a draft outline of what you already know that the employer wants to see. Use the posting to help you create this and rely on the keywords included in the original post.
Remember that a cover letter can grab the attention of a hiring manager, even if your skills aren’t exactly matched to a position. Your cover letter gives you the chance to shine. Keep this cover letter concise; hiring managers don’t have a lot of time.