You need to stand out in a crowded job market. Along with working your connections, creating a winning resume and preparing for interviews, writing a targeted cover letter can position you as a top notch candidate.
But aren’t cover letters yesterday’s news?
Experts are telling us that cover letters are a must. “Not sending a cover letter is a sign of laziness. It’s akin to making spelling and grammar mistakes in your resume. You just don’t do it,” says Harvard Business Review communications expert Jodi Glickman.
Here’s what you should know about the do’s and don’ts of writing a compelling cover letter:
- Use the hiring manager’s name. The personal touch goes a long way and it shows that you’re not sending out a standard cover letter. Search the job posting or find a list of personnel on the website for the appropriate name to use. You can also call the organization directly to ask for the name of the key hiring authority for the role you are targeting.
- Discuss the job requirements specifically. Be sure to use keywords from the job posting so that your experience aligns with the job’s requirements. If the job calls for project-management skills, speak to that. If it requires specific job experience or skills, include yours. Use the cover letter to help the reader quickly see your most relevant qualifications and pique the hiring manager’s interest in your candidacy.
- Be solution-oriented. According to Harvard Business Review, the candidate shouldn’t “just [show] skills related to the job, [he should …] be the kind of employee who offers up solutions — instead of just laying problems on [the HR] desk.
- Keep it short. No one will wade through a lengthy letter. Be brief and to the point, outlining what you have to offer and your track record of success within a one-page cover letter.
- Ask for the job. Be direct and be sure the reader knows your intention. Don’t make the mistake of sounding wishy-washy and not interested in the position.
- Take advantage of connections. If you know the hiring manager or someone within the company, reference that information in your cover letter.
- Write a generic, mass cover letter. Hiring managers will instantly spot the ploy.
- Bypass research. Find out about the company by looking at their website and scouring LinkedIn profiles. The more you know about the company, the more specific your cover letter can be. Search for problems the company is having or the growth they want to experience, and showcase how you can meet those needs.
- Write a weak opening. It’s the most critical component of the letter – it gets the reader to continue on. This line is like your elevator pitch: Open with your greatest strength that relates to the job’s requirements.
- Undervalue your expertise. Hiring managers will sit up and take notice when a cover letter goes deep, showcasing how you can help the organization solve problems.
- Be devoid of enthusiasm. You can differentiate yourself from the competition by highlighting your energy and adding a little personality. Keep it authentic but professional.
Every step of the job-search process, including writing a compelling cover letter, means you’re one step closer to landing the job. Follow these do’s and don’ts to create a cover letter that “wows” the hiring manager.
Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional with 20+ years’ experience providing leadership and career coaching to executives and professionals. Contact her today for a complimentary consultation to discuss your situation and devise strategies to land the job of your dreams. Copyright JL Careers Inc. All rights reserved.
Wishing you much career success!
Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
Looking for insightful, tailored career coaching or retirement planning? Contact us today to learn how you can fast-track your career and create a life you’ll love.
Wishing you much career success!
Joanne Loberg Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc