If you think that a cover letter is a waste of time, then you could be missing out on lots of opportunities. A cover letter may seem a bit formal and old fashioned, but many recruiters or hiring managers use the cover letter you provide to screen out unsuitable candidates. It is an opportunity for you to wow the person reading your cover letter and help them to understand why they should interview you, as opposed to putting your CV in the No pile.
So how do you avoid getting a rejection letter just because your cover letter isn't up to scratch?
The cover letter is just as essential as your CV. As per your CV, it is a professional document and requires thought and care. You should create a template cover letter that you have ready to adapt for each role you apply for.
This provides a template that you can tweak for each job you apply for. You don't need to re-write your cover letter completely every time, but you will want to adapt it to fit the opportunity.
You should review your cover letter against any role description or job advert that you apply for. Make sure, like your CV, that is emphasizes key strengths that match the job.
Cover letters should include the following:
- Details of how to contact you
- Explanation of why you want the role - especially if it is a career move or change in direction
- A highlight of your core skills that match the role and any achievements that are relevant
- Words that are in the job advert
- A sales close like “I look forward to meeting with you to discuss the role further"
Your cover letter should entice the reader to read your CV and invite you for an interview. Even if you are applying via email you should attach a cover letter or include a cover email to explain your application.
Avoid the common cover letter mistakes:
- Change the name of the person and the job to match the job you are applying for. There is nothing more off putting as a recruiter than receiving a cover letter that refers to a completely different job and is addressed to the wrong person.
- Don't talk too much about what you want from the company e. g “I want a job that will help me to learn and develop". Talk about what you can do for the company, not just what you will get from them.
- Spelling errors.
- Not including a cover letter at all! If the employer has requested a cover letter, you must include one. If you don't, it looks like you don't care or can't follow instructions. You should also complete any application forms or submit any other material that the employer has requested.
© Jo Mills 2008 You are welcome to “reprint" this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the “about the author" info at the end).
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