Whether you’re a recent graduate entering the job market for the first time or a seasoned professional looking to make a career move, having the skills to write a stand-out cover letter is key to landing your new job.
Here are some cover letter Do’s and Don’ts to help differentiate yourself from the pack.
Do: Use an interesting and attention grabbing introduction. Employers are busy, which means they don’t have time to take a good long look at every single application for an open position. Employing a strong, confident hook will differentiate you from the other applicants and entice the reader into the rest of your cover letter.
Don’t: Begin your letter with a generic sentence. Nondescript sentences like, “My name is Courtney and I am interested in the available position” tell the reader something that they already know. Instead give them something they want to know, like why you are the only candidate they need to consider.
Do: Address your letter correctly. The ideal person to address your letter to is the hiring manager who will be reviewing your application. This demonstrates your initiative and shows that you are truly interested in the company, which further sets you apart from the other applicants. If you are unable to find the contact to address your cover letter to, something neutral such as “To whom it may concern” will suffice, but do your best to be direct and specific.
Don’t: Send your cover letter in an undesired manner. Make sure to follow the directions for the application because most employers have a particular process for how they would like to receive candidate applications. Some companies prefer to have applicants submit their cover letters through their website, while others prefer submissions via email. Ignoring these directions nearly ensures that your application will be either overlooked or ignored altogether. Mistakes like these are easy ways for employers to immediately eliminate you from their qualified candidate pool.
Do: Send individualized cover letters for each position that you’re applying too. Every company is looking for something a bit different, and the experience that you highlight in your cover letter should be altered accordingly. No two positions are exactly the same. Therefore, no two cover letters should be either.
Don’t: Focus your cover letter on what you want from the employer. Instead, focus on what an employer’s needs are and how you can satisfy them. Cover letters are about the employer and what they want and need, so highlighting your most relevant experience will help to show the benefits you can bring to their organization.
Cover letters are an extremely important part of the job search process, and knowing how to make yours stand out will bring your application to the next level.