In our recent blog posts, we have been featuring a lot of tips regarding perfecting your resume, developing your career or becoming a more effective speaker. One area we have failed to address to this point is a cover letter. You know, that thing that goes along with your resume and sums up who you are and how well you right write. This can be a very daunting task because it is a first impression that can make or break the next step of the hiring process. I came across this article which pretty much laid out how to be successful in creating one. I will point out some of the best practices that are quick and easy and you can apply them right now to your current letter.
1) Always attach a cover letter. You may never know if the hiring manager is planning on looking at it, but assume yes. Like the ol’ Boy Scout motto, “Always be prepared”.
2) Address the cover letter to the proper person involved in hiring for the position. Spend time searching the company website, or asking questions when they call you in for an interview. Most postings will include the name of the person to whom you can address your cover letter, but if not, do some digging. Being too general can get you shuffled in the pile. You need to stand out as much as possible.
3) State the company’s full name and the reason why you want to work here. Sell yourself by showcasing what you can do to help the company, customer, etc. but not what makes you the best candidate. It’s a very fine line to teeter between bragging and making sure you get your point across of what you can do to help them.
4) Keep the meat of your content to about three paragraphs. Start by introducing yourself, followed by listing your value to the company and concluding with a call to action to get the process moving.
5) Spelling and grammar must be perfect. Re-read your cover letter. Then re-read it again. Now have someone else read it. And then re-read it. Then have someone else read it…get the picture yet? Having multiple eyes read your content can only help catch mistakes. It can offer up some issues of having different “voices” interpret your writing skills, but this is something that can adjusted very easily.
6) Make sure u don’t use abbr. or emoticons or txt msg riting wen u r creating a CV. All these phrases show that you were either a) too lazy to actually type out full words or b) not understanding how to create full, complete sentences and not a fit for this position. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage over this.
These “rules” are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cover letter creation. The way social media is today and how you have to stand out makes it difficult to justify one surefire way. New digital cover letters, videos and other forms of media have become popular in place of the traditional word document. My advice to this is know the industry you are entering and the common standards used.