For some job seekers, writing a cover letter is a pointless endeavor. But it’s actually one of the most important aspects of any job search. Cover letters are the first thing that many hiring managers see. It can create a positive first impression that encourages someone to read your resume, or it can eliminate you from the candidate pool altogether. Don’t let a poor cover letter ruin your chance of landing your dream job. Follow these six tips for writing a cover letter that will help land you an interview.
Don’t repeat your resume
Your cover letter shouldn’t be a regurgitation of your resume. Instead, it’s your chance to tell the hiring manager about the skills you have that make you the best candidate for the position. Be sure to highlight relevant achievements and experience that relate to the position for which you are applying. Avoid using common open lines like “I am writing to you today to express my interest in the Sales position with XYZ, Inc.” Think of an attention-getting first line that will compel the hiring manager to read on.
What do you bring to the table?
Your cover letter should tell the hiring manager what you can do for them, not how great the position would be for you. Let them know how your skills and experience will help you improve their company. Give examples of past accomplishments that are pertinent to the position.
It’s a blurb, not a novel
Hiring managers read hundreds of cover letters every year. They don’t have time to read 1000+ word cover letters. Give the hiring manager a break and keep it short — no longer than a few paragraphs. Treat your cover letter as a brief introduction that showcases your experience and acts as a smooth transition to your resume.
Customize your content
There is no one size fits all when it comes to cover letters. Hiring managers read so many cover letters in their career that they can immediately recognize a canned or generic one. Every cover letter you submit should be unique to the position.
Avoid buzz words
Buzzwords and phrases to avoid include:
- People person
- Excellent communication skills
- Think outside the box
- Detail oriented
Include the hiring managers name
If possible, avoid starting your cover letter with “Dear Hiring Manager.” Utilize the company website and LinkedIn to research and find out to whom you should address your letter. Sometimes, it’s impossible to determine who the hiring manager is for the position. That’s OK! If you’re unsure, use the head of the department for the position.
Every hiring manager is different. There are no hard and fast rules to cover letter writing. But if you follow these six tips, you will be on the right track to cover letter success.