Is Your Cover Letter Actually Hurting Your Job Hunt?

By Eddie Beverage

You’re applying for jobs that are inside your wheelhouse and well within your reach, but no matter how well the odds line up in your favor, you just can’t seem to get great results. Your background is impressive, your resume is neat, clear, concise, and well organized, and your targeted jobs are perfect for you in every way. So what gives? Why aren’t you racking up the interviews you expected? You’ve been searching for months and so far, very few managers have reached out to you after receiving your application materials.

Could your cover letter be lying at the heart of your frustrations? If any of the following situations seem close to hme, it may be time to put your resume aside for a while and focus your full attention on editing your letter.

1. Your cover letter is getting negative or no feedback from readers, family, and friends.

This is the easiest way to tell if your letter needs work. If your friends and supporters are covering your letter with red ink or responding to a read-through with vague suggestions for improvement rather than enthusiastic encouragement, take this as a strong sign that it’s time to get real help. Turn to a professional editor or job search pro who can tell you exactly what’s wrong with your message and how to fix it.

2. Your resume gets better results when flying solo.

You meet a hiring manager at a networking event and she asks to see your resume, so you send it over ASAP. Your resume shows up without the accompaniment of a cover letter, and it finally gets a positive response. If your resume seems to do better on its own, something’s wrong. Your cover letter should support your resume, not undermine it or cast a shadow over its claims.

3. Phone interviews involve questions your letter should be answering.

If employers call you for phone interviews and ask practical, logistical questions that should be addressed in your letter, it’s time to edit your message and make this information clear. Examples might include:

  • “What kind of job are you looking for?”
  • “We asked applicants to provide a salary range, but we didn’t see one in your letter—can I ask you about that while I have you on the phone?”
  • “How did you find out about our this open position?”
  • “Your resume says you have a background in healthcare, but this is a financial firm. Are you changing careers?”

4. Your interviews are spent clarifying confusing bits about your past.

If you sit down with an interviewer and he proceeds to ask a series of confused questions similar to the ones above, revise your letter after the session and you may save yourself (and your future interviewers) some time, hassle, and false hope. For example:

  • “In your last position, you had no direct reports. But this is a management role. Are you interested in managing others?”
  • “Have you ever done this work before?”
  • “I don’t understand why this job appeals to you—it’s nothing like your previous position.” 

Fix Your Cover Letter & Elevate Your Chances

A few tweaks to your cover letter can have a dramatic impact on your results. Land more interview invitations by visiting LiveCareer and giving your cover letter a little extra polish.  

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