Everyone puts a lot of effort into writing a good resume, often spending days and even months with one. However, a cover letter is just as important as a resume as it introduces you to the prospective employer.
In this highly competitive job market, writing a hurried cover letter can seriously impact on your chances of getting an interview call.
Ideally, you should use your cover letter to create a strong first impression about yourself. The letter gives you the opportunity to show the prospective employer the qualities and experience that make you perfect for the position. Like a resume, there are certain dos and don’ts you need to follow to make sure your cover letter makes a positive impression and not a negative one.
Dos for cover letter writing
- Personalizing your cover letter
Recruiters do not like generic cover letters, and they can easily catch one. Generic cover letters often begin with an unaddressed salutation like ‘To whom it may concern’. It sounds more like spam than a professional letter for a job application. The recruiter is taking the time to read your cover letter and resume, so you should also take some time to find out the name of the contact in the company. Most job ads have the name of the contact, but you can also find out by visiting the company website or calling them directly.
- Addressing the specific position
Most companies publish job ads for several job openings at the same time, so you can make the recruiter’s job a lot easier by addressing the specific position you are applying for. More importantly, you can discuss the skills and qualities you have that specifically match that job. For instance, if a company is looking to fill a position in their sales department, highlight your sales experience in your cover letter. This shows that you paid attention, and you can come one step closer to getting an interview call.
A great way to address the specific job opening is to make a table for yourself before you begin writing the cover letter. List out the job requirements stated in the job ad and match your corresponding skills and experience in the other column.
Don’ts for cover letter writing
- Ending the letter passively
Not a lot of people get a call from the company acknowledging their application when they send their cover letter and resume. You are the one looking for the job, so you need to take initiative and offer to follow up. Rather than ending the cover letter passively with a statement like ‘Looking forward to hearing from you’, end it with an active statement like ‘I will contact you next week to discuss a time we can meet’. When you add something like this, however, make sure that you follow up on your statement.
- Not getting to the point
Do not make the recruiter work too much to see your suitability for the job opening and include specific examples of your past experience and successes. For instance, if you are applying for a marketing position, mention how you successfully developed and executed a marketing campaign instead of saying something of little value like ‘I am motivated’. Give specific examples of your motivation and lay out the necessary information in a way that makes it easier for the recruiter to make a decision about calling you for the interview.
ABOUT AUTHOR: Michael Davis is a career counselor with more than 25 years of experience in private practice. He is internationally certified as a Master Career Development Professional (MCDP) and has been recognized as a Global Career Development Facilitator(GCDF). You can check out his site at ResumeSamples.net.