You’ve found the perfect job, your resume is ready to go, but there’s one last thing on your to-do list: the dreaded cover letter. While it might seem easy to write a one-page paper about yourself, many job seekers struggle to dissect what, exactly, an employer is looking for and find it difficult to translate that into a few hundred dazzling words.
Not only are cover letters unavoidable, but many employers consider it the most important part of your application. As much as you’d rather let your resume speak for itself, you’d be missing your chance to make the best first impression. This is your place to showcase your talents, stand out above competing candidates and help hiring managers get to know you outside of your resume.
It’s time to give that cover letter the attention it deserves. We’ve compiled a few simple tips to help you land your dream job (and hopefully make this process a little less stressful).
Always Submit a Cover Letter
This might seem pretty obvious but you’d be surprised how many people think cover letters are optional. Even if the job description doesn’t mention it, still include one. Applicants who don’t take the time to write a cover letter are typically seen as less motivated, and most hiring managers won’t even look at an application that’s lacking one. So let this be your first warning: cover letters are a must! We’ve all had to write them, and we all know the time and stress that goes into it. So by going the extra mile, it not only proves your interest in the job but also shows that you’re willing to put in the effort.
Don’t Regurgitate Your Resume
Yes, they want to hear about the things listed on your resume, but not if you copy and paste them right from the document. Elaborate on your previous experiences and highlight things that relate to the position you’re applying for. A cover letter lets you put your skills into full sentences rather than just bullet points. Use it to describe additional details that you weren’t able to squeeze onto your single-page resume and tell a story as to why you’re the perfect fit for the job.
Don’t Apologize for Skills You Don’t Have
This is one of the most common cover letter mistakes. For some reason, we all feel the need to apologize for our lack of skills or experiences. But why apologize? If you don’t meet all of the job requirements, don’t draw attention to it. Instead, stay positive and focus on the skills you do have. Try to relate them back to the position you’re applying for as best you can. It’s better to highlight your strengths rather than apologize for your weaknesses.
Don’t Be Too Formal – Show Some Personality
Remember the person receiving your cover letter is just that, a person. Spare your overly formal sentences and put some personality into it. Reading countless cover letters can be exhausting and, more often than not, employers often simply skim them. So make your cover letter stand out, and it just might land you an interview.
Pay Attention to the Details
The smallest grammar mistake will most likely land your application in the “no” stack. It doesn’t matter what job you’re applying for; hiring managers are always looking for smart, detail-oriented individuals. So if you misspell a word or forget a comma, don’t think it will go unnoticed. Be sure to thoroughly proofread your cover letter before submitting it. Consider having a colleague or friend review it as well to check for grammatical errors and confusing language.
Lastly, just be yourself. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to be something they’re not. If you end up landing the interview after you’ve blatantly lied in your cover letter, they’re going to know and you won’t get the job. So be confident in yourself and highlight your true strengths. An honest cover letter will go a long way.
While it can be stressful at times, a cover letter can make or break your chance of landing an interview. So be patient with yourself and give your cover letter the effort it needs. You’ll be happy you did.