You’ve undoubtedly spent countless hours crafting the perfect resume – making sure all your relevant educational and professional experiences are reflected on the page. While a carefully crafted resume is one of the most vital job search tools, a well-written cover letter is an equally important component. Unfortunately, many job-seekers fail to put as much effort into their cover letter as they should. As a result, they are often cut out of the running unnecessarily.
The most common mistakes include writing a cover letter that’s too long – or too short – or failing to find out the name of the person to whom it should be addressed. “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern” is not sufficient. Some job-seekers neglect to include a cover letter at all!
Unfortunately, writing a cover letter is easier said than done. The task is monumental: You need to sell yourself to a potential employer by introducing who you are and explaining why you are the right person for the job in a relatively short space.
Here are some tips to help ensure your cover letter is dynamic and effective:
1) Be Succinct: When an employer sits down to review resumes, they aren’t looking to read “War and Peace.” They want to get in and get out as quickly as possible. It’s your job to cut to the chase and make your case in a succinct, yet thorough fashion. Avoid wordiness and extraneous information. Your goal is to make the reader want to learn more about you, not to feel like they already know too much.
2) Be Creative: Don’t open your letter by stating the obvious, “I am responding to your ad.” Instead find an exciting and engaging way to draw the reader into your written argument that you are the person they should hire. “I was intrigued to hear that XYZ Company is looking for a new senior accountant,” you might write.
3) Be Personal: While it’s certainly acceptable to rely on the same basic template for more than one cover letter, you cannot use the same letter and merely change the name of the company. Each opportunity is different, so you must customize your cover letter to the company and the position for which you are applying. Make references to specific company endeavors or accomplishments and explain how you will fit into the company’s structure and culture. Most importantly, make the case for why your skills and experience are a perfect match with the company’s needs.
4) Be Confident: While you certainly don’t want to come across as a braggart, you have to sell yourself. Therefore, you mustn’t be afraid to tout your accomplishments. If you saved a previous employer a lot of money or helped lay the groundwork for a key initiative, include that information in your cover letter. End your letter with a confident call to action, such as “I look forward to discussing this exciting opportunity with you.” Word choice is critical. Be positive and avoid using words like “hope.” That makes you not sound confident. Rather, write as if it’s a given the employer will be calling you in for an interview. That just may turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
For help with your job search, contact Daley and Associates. We offer superior recruiting and placement results, specializing in auditing and financial placement.
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