No matter how well written your resume is, if you don’t have a first rate cover letter to go with it, you’re not going to get called in for an interview. And this is where most people fail miserably. Your resume may be packed with all the right keywords and skill sets but unless your cover letter is written properly, you’re not going to get ahead in the hiring process.
Here are a few tips that will serve those of you who intend to apply for jobs.
Do: Ensure your cover letter has no typing errors or spelling mistakes.
Don’t make this common mistake as it can cost you the job! You may get away with some spelling errors in your resume, but a cover letter is something that can be checked for such mistakes. If you do have typing or spelling mistakes, especially ones that are common, the reader will assume you’ll make the same mistakes on the job.
Do: Use action words.
Employers want people who can get things done and doing things is what action words help you to do. Get your cover letter to reflect the excitement that you would bring if selected for the position.
Don’t: Lie or exaggerate on your accomplishments and skills in your letter.
Employers are very good at checking resumes so embellishing information won’t change their mind about hiring you, it will just add more nails to your coffin.
Do: Be honest in your cover letter, but focus on what you will be able to do for the company.
Don’t: Write about why you want this job or what it can do for you (this is not a sales pitch). Only write about how you can contribute and help the company achieve its goals.
Do: Customize your letter for every position you apply for.
Don’t: Apply without customizing the cover letter and resume to each targeted position, as this reflects laziness on your part. Never send out a generic letter or one that has been sent to you by someone else as this is considered unethical behavior in a professional environment.
Do: Follow up, but don’t follow up too soon or too late. Sending an email to thank the person for their time and confirming that you’ll be following up next week is a good idea if they haven’t gotten back to you after two weeks. If they get your email before then, they’ll just regard it as nagging and a nuisance.
Don’t: Forward your cover letter with the resume. This is not necessary as the hiring manager has access to your resume already.
Do: Use spell check on your computer (if you’re applying online) and lay it out nicely, so it won’t look like a quick job that was done in just minutes before sending.
Don’t: Use too many fancy fonts as these can make your document look unprofessional and cheap, no matter how well written it is.
Do: Hire an expert to help you through the process of writing a winning cover letter that will help land you the job you want. You don’t need to pay for such services but there are people who will do it for you at a small fee, so it’s worth looking around.
Don’t: Just wing it! A good cover letter is the single most important part of your resume and if you really want to land that job, put as much effort into your cover letter as you did with your resume.
Do: Get some feedback from a friend or family member before you send it off.
Don’t: Send your resume and cover letter without checking for mistakes and typos, because this will cost you the job.
Do: Have patience! Keep looking for other jobs while waiting to hear back from your potential employer. Do not follow up with them unless they say they want you to. If your cover letter is good, it won’t take them very long to get back to you.
Don’t: Ever quit a job until you have another one set up. You never know when someone will call and offer you a position that sounds perfect for you!
The cover letter is an essential part of the job application process. Employers look at the cover letter as an insight into who you are and what your style of writing is like, so make it a good one!