The way managers actually read a cover letter and the assumptions job seekers have about this process are often surprisingly different. In fact, this process is so different that you might be losing job offers because of it.
As you edit your cover letter , attach your resume, and send your credentials off to potential employers, keep these considerations in mind.
Myth 1: Employers are too busy to care, too busy to read, and too busy to remember details.
Reality: It’s the reviewer’s job to staff this position. Her personal success and the success of the company depend on her ability to find a great candidate. And chances are, the person she selects will be working side by side with her every single day. It’s in her best interest to give this process her full attention and search hard for a candidate she can trust. Right now, very few tasks on her to-do list are more important than this one.
Myth 2: Employers won’t read past the first sentence if they don’t like it.
Reality: Yes they will. It doesn’t take much time and effort to read a half-page cover letter. If they have hundreds of letters to sift through, they may skim rather than read deeply, but only during the first look. They’ll be back, and eventually every statement you make will get the attention it deserves.
Myth 3: Employers don’t read resumes and cover letters; keyword scanners do.
Reality: Sometimes keyword searches are used to select resumes and cover letters out of a large database, but if your letter makes it past this first hurdle, it will be read by a human set of eyes before you’re called in for an interview. If you direct your letter to a robot audience and think the scanner will be your most critical gatekeeper, think again.
Myth 4: Employers comb through every detail and catch every implication, no matter how subtle.
Reality: They don’t. Extremely subtle implications, attempts at humor, or ironic self-deprecation may all be taken at face value in a cover letter. Try not to say one thing if you actually mean something else. And don’t suggest or imply—just state.
Myth 5: Employers take everything at face value. They’re dazzled by bragging and can’t really recognize an overstated claim.
Reality: In a corollary to the myth listed above, employers aren’t just wide-eyed, guileless consumers of whatever you have to say. Empty bragging isn’t impressive at a cocktail party and it won’t work in this context either. Exaggerations, hyperbole, and self-aggrandizement are given a little bit of leeway in a cover letter, but not much. Sell yourself, but be truthful.
Myth 6: Employers are skeptical, and they’re looking for any reason to reject you, even if it’s just one typo.
Reality: Actually, most reviewers approach the process with a positive attitude. They aren’t just gloomily searching for the least objectionable candidate; they’re looking for the most promising match in a general pool of excellent, professional, intelligent, and hardworking contenders. Regardless of the industry or the specific position, managers usually share the same goal: Narrowing their options down to one person who happens to have a little more to offer than the others…all of whom have something great to offer.
A Great Cover Letter Is Easy to Recognize
Search for jobs , write your letter, and submit your application with clear eyes. And remember that the readers who review your credentials aren’t just hiring managers; they’re also human beings. So keep your letter respectful, clear, straightforward, and professional. Visit LiveCareer and use the site’s Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder for guidance.