Although most recruiting has become digitalised, cover letters are still heavily used. Most people dread writing them, while others even believe that cover letters are outdated and no longer have a place in the modern recruitment world. So, why write one?
Because it will separate you from the rest. Creating a well-written cover letter can make you stand out from the crowd. However, it’s easy to make simple mistakes. Here are a few cover letter faux pas you should definitely avoid - besides typos, of course.
I am writing to apply …No matter what you are writing, you should know that the very first sentence sets the tone and expectations. Don’t waste your opportunity to make a lasting impression by starting with: “I am writing to apply for [ job] at [ company].” No hiring manager will ever be impressed with that. While they might have taught you this approach when you were still in school, the reality of modern-day recruitment looks different.
You want this first sentence to be memorable for the hiring manager, encouraging him/her to continue reading. Make this about yourself. Why do you really want this job? Why is this company so interesting? It’s ok to be a little bit personal as well. Instead of writing this at the start, consider having a go at the end. Craft the overall tone of the letter first to make more of an impact.
Don’t overcomplicate itThe cover letter is supposed to detail your intention and tells a little bit more about your background and experience. However, you can’t explain everything on one page. Your reasons for applying might be complicated and demand an explanation, but it’s very crucial to make things as concise as possible.
Depending on your previous career path and experience, you might find it hard to limit yourself to one paragraph. However, it’s important to not overwhelm the reader. Give a concise overview, briefly describing your scope of work for relevant position. If you are applying to be a marketing manager, there is no need to list all the part-time jobs you had while being a student.
It’s not about the pastIt’s easy to just focus on your accomplishments, but a cover letter is primarily about your ambition and motivation for the future. Although recruiters and hiring managers are interested to hear about what you have done, they are even more interested in what you want to do.
Make sure you use the cover letter to showcase your aspirations. Ask yourself what you can bring to the table and what motivates you to work there.
Not being detailedWhen applying for several jobs at the same time, it can be tempting to rehash the same cover letter for all applications. However, don’t be fooled, as hiring managers can easily detect whether the cover letter is tailored to the company or not.
Be sure to research and fully understand both the company and the offered position. Assess how your skills actually fit the requirements and then customise the cover letter for each application you do. It might be a little more work, but the sincerity will shine through and give you an advantage over other applicants, landing you actual job interviews.