Do cover letters matter? Does anyone read them? Are they really necessary? I hear these questions all the time. The truth is, you never know whether your cover letter will be read, but if someone does decide to read it, it better be good!
I think of a resume as the most basic information you’ll share in your job search. Even great resumes that contain a comprehensive list of accomplishments don’t typically show a lot of personality. A cover letter brings in your story and lets your personality shine through.
If your goal is to write a cover letter that highlights your personality and the value you bring while creating a connection with the reader (hint: this should be your goal), then start by removing these common phrases.
1. "To Whom It May Concern/Dear Sir or Madam..."
Whenever possible, use the name of the hiring manager or the person who posted the job. A personalized greeting immediately shows that you have taken the time and effort necessary to seek out the correct person. If you absolutely can’t find a name, go with ‘Dear [Marketing] Team’ or ‘Dear Hiring Manager.’
2. “I would like to be considered for [job].”
If someone is reading your letter, you are already being considered, and this very typical opening is a missed opportunity. Instead, try something like ‘my extensive experience in sales and marketing make me the ideal fit for [job].’
3. “I want...”
A hiring manager or recruiter’s top concern is how you can solve their problems and give them what they want. Speak in terms of adding value to the team through your experience and fitting in to the company culture, rather than focusing on what you are looking for in your next role.
4. “As you can see in my resume...”
Use the cover letter as an opportunity to show, rather than just tell. Instead of recapping your resume, elaborate on why you enjoy doing what you do and how you do it. Rather than saying you are detail-oriented, paint a picture of a time you had to pay close attention to detail and the results you achieved through the use of this skill.
5. “Due to my divorce/layoff/age...”
Excessive personal information is a surefire turnoff to a hiring manager or recruiter. Be sure that you focus on results and what you have achieved, rather than any negative circumstances that led you to your current position.
6. “I look orward to spaeking with you soon.”
Spot any errors in this phrase? It can be very easy to miss a spelling or grammar issue when you’re rushing to complete and submit your cover letter and resume. Whenever possible, have a partner proofread your documents before submission. If a colleague is not available, reading the document out loud can be a very effective method to spot errors or typos. It is also helpful to print out your cover letter to make sure it looks appealing on the page with appropriate margins and font size.
Your cover letter is a great opportunity to showcase why you are the right fit for a role. Take advantage of this by avoiding common missteps and putting your best foot forward to let your personality shine through.
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping people advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Learn more at www.alysongarrido.com.