Remember the last time you went shopping for a big-ticket item such as a car? The salesman showed you a shiny, professional piece of collateral that explained the car in great detail. Could you have learned about the car without the collateral? Of course! But the collateral is part of the sales pitch – it explains the features and benefits of the car and tells you why you should buy it.
Your cover letter is your resume’s collateral, and its purpose is to highlight your strengths to the reader. I continue to hear stories about jobseekers who were far less qualified than their competition and landed in positions anyway. In almost every case, the jobseekers wrote a stellar cover letter to get their foot in the door, so by the time they arrived to the interview, they were already way ahead of their competition.
You should include a cover letter as often as possible, but at least when you are applying for a job that you are extremely interested in. Consider asking a marketing friend to critique you letter to ensure that it is marketing you in the best way possible.
Make an attempt to address your letter to an actual person, rather than just using Dear Sir or Madam. To find the name of the hiring manager, use Google or LinkedIn. Even a good guess scores you points, because it indicates that you tried harder than everyone else.
Make sure that you mention the name of the company in the letter, followed by an explanation of why you are interested in working for THIS company in particular. Make sure that you really mean what you say. Recruiters have a way of sensing when you are being less than truthful. Our goal is to hire people who sincerely want to work for our company – it’s the job of your cover letter to convince us.
At the same time as you are writing creatively, proofread your letter to be sure that your writing is grammatically correct. When recruiters are faced with large stacks of resumes for certain positions, you will not make the first cut if they discover spelling or grammar mistakes on your resume or cover letter. These mistakes are the eye’s equivalent of “nails on a chalkboard”.
Over the years, I’ve saved a dozen or so resumes that had comical mistakes on them. I refer to these affectionately as my “Wall of Shame”. Here are just a few examples from cover letters that ended up in my collection:
- A fast-paced company is not the same thing as a “face paced”, a “fast paised”, or even a “fast paste” company.
- The abbreviation for Assistant is Asst. Please don’t ever forget that. When you drop the “t” from “Asst” you aren’t offering much to be proud of.
- Hiring is not the same thing as “highering” or “hiering” or “hireing”
Double check, triple check and quadruple check your cover letter. And then check it again. You can never be too obsessed about getting the details right.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice: Your cover letter is your sales presentation and it can make you or break you. The key is to give the reader a small glimpse into your background, which encourages them to want to learn more by reading your resume. As simple as this sounds, writing a good cover letter takes practice and patience. Trust me…it will be Absolutely worth all the hard work if you get it right.
Blog by ‘Absolutely’ Abby Kohut. See more from Abby on her site: http://www.absolutelyabby.com/