When you are applying for a job, your cover letter might be the first thing the hiring manager sees. And you know what they say about only having one chance to make a good first impression. Here are some tips on making that good first impression with your cover letter.
At the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863, Edward Everett, a prominent speaker at the time, spoke eloquently for over two hours. President Abraham Lincoln spoke for two minutes. Whose speech is remembered today?
If a hiring manager is wading through a slew of applications, he is not likely to have the time or inclination to read more than three or four paragraphs. Don’t waste his time – or yours – by turning your qualifications into an epic tale that will end up an epic fail.
It’s about them, not you
You may need the job. You may think you deserve the job after all your education and training and hard work. But the company is looking to fill the position with someone that fits their needs, not the other way around. You might be highly qualified for any job in your field. But what you need to convey in your cover letter is why you are the right fit for this particular company and what you can do for them.
Don’t repurpose your resume
According to career coach experts, your cover letter should not simply restate facts that could be gleaned from your resume, but expand on them in a way that is relevant to this particular job.
Have someone else proofread
Even if you are a professional proofreader, it is easy to miss mistakes in your own work, particularly if it looks right and passes spellcheck. Even if you tailor each cover letter to the specific company, you might still do some cutting and pasting. And when you are done, everything will look right, except for one small problem – you’ve cut and pasted from another cover letter and left in the wrong company name.
Don’t use gimmicks to try to make your cover letter stand out
Crazy fonts, graphics or photos might make your cover letter stand out – but not in the way you want. Unless such flourishes are essential to the type of job for which you are applying, leave them out. And as for really elaborate submissions that include executable files – hello, spam filter!
Ben Hargrove writes on career coaching topics for the Institute for Coaching.