It's a well-recorded fact that the three most irritating aspects of life on Earth are hangnails, pizza that's too hot to eat and writing cover letters. Indeed, cover letters are tedious, difficult to write and undoubtedly the most painful aspect of applying for a job.
However, along with putting together a strong resume, nothing in the application process is more important than a well-written cover letter. It's the first – and quite possibly the only – thing a manager sees before they decide whether or not to send your application to the virtual trashcan. Luckily, with a little guidance, your cover letter can make you a top candidate for the gig. The rest of this article breaks down the best ways to stand out from other applicants.
The most common and dangerous mistake you can commit is submitting a "one-size-fits-all" email that lacks personality. It's an easy habit to develop: you create a basic template, change a few keywords, copy and paste everything into an email, and send it off.
Unfortunately, managers see this type of cover letter all the time. In fact, it's so common they tend to instinctively migrate their mouse towards the "delete" button within seconds after opening it.
Prove that you're flesh and blood and not just some cyber-bot that pulls and plugs information into an email. Stock messages come across as lazy, and they often fail to hit on the most crucial components of the position. Thoroughly read the job ad, mold your cover letter around the company's needs and…
You might have 20 impressive career accomplishments you want to discuss, but it's more important to highlight your best relevant examples. Focus on a few achievements that relate to the position, and wrap up each example in a sentence or two.
Keep in mind managers are busy people; their daily to-do lists are generally chock full of important tasks. Unfortunately, this means you'll only have a few seconds to grab their attention and make an impression. A short and snappy cover letter can hook the reader's interest and compel them to read on.
Just remember to listen to the ad: if it asks for your career goals, lay out your aspirations; if it specifies their ideal candidate, respond to their specifications. Your writing should be succinct, relevant and prove that you took time to…
No matter what you're writing, it's important to identify your audience. Doing so helps you organize your ideas and single out the most pertinent material. Generic cover letters are easy to throw away; they're boring, show a lack of interest and do a poor job distinguishing you from the crowd. Don't write a stock letter and end up in the email graveyard alongside spam messages and bland applications.
Read the company website, research the position you're applying for and mold your cover letter to their interests and company goals. Figure out what the company actually does, and discuss the ways you'll help them reach their objectives. And don't be afraid to…
While tooting your own horn isn't the best way to make new friends, it's absolutely necessary in a good cover letter. It can be tempting to simply repeat your resume, but your cover letter should expand on your professional accomplishments. Discuss your most impressive career highlights, and go into detail about past achievements that are relevant to the position. Remember, you're trying to sell yourself. It might feel unnatural to brag, but you need to come across as the person for the job.
Although you're puffing your chest out a bit, your tone can still be conversational and witty; humor shows confidence in both your writing abilities and professional qualifications. It's also completely fine if you'd prefer to write a more formal message. Either way, remember that…
Managers appreciate a well-written and mistake-free cover letter. Proper sentence structure shows that you pay attention to detail, and writing with a distinct narrative voice gives your cover letter some personality – a hint at who you actually are as a person. Keep in mind the company isn't just looking to hire a worker; they want someone who can contribute to the company's overall culture.
Proper grammar and punctuation might keep you in the race for a bit, but there are other subtle ways to make a positive impression with your writing. For example, maintain a positive tone, write with enthusiasm and don't come across as desperate.
Organization is also a key. Huge blocks of text are daunting and difficult to skim. Managers might not read the whole cover letter, but they'll likely scan the main points. Break up large paragraphs into sections, and try to sum up your message as succinctly as possible.
With all the aforementioned tips in mind – from personalizing your message to tidying up your grammar – your cover letter should help you…
Yes, writing a good cover letter is time-consuming and difficult. But finding a potentially awesome job is well worth the sacrifice.
And don't hang your head in disappointment just yet if your phone isn't ringing off the hook with job offers. Even with the perfect cover letter, it's unlikely you'll hear back from each and every company you contact. Your hard work is sure to pay off at some point, though, and you'll be rewarded with a new and invigorating career.
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