When applying for jobs online, your cover letter and resume are what will land you an interview or send you straight to a company’s trash bin. The other day, my friend was writing a cover letter for a position and asked me for some input, which led to a debate about how long a cover letter should be and what exactly it should entail. I ended up creating a list of things that I have looked for in cover letters when hiring for my company.
Let’s start from the top of the email!
1. Address your cover letter to someone. If the contact person on the job listing is Mr. Bossman, start the letters of with a “Dear Mr. Bossman,” even if you’re just writing an email. If there’s no name on the job posting, a simple “To Whom It May Concern” will do.
2. Use the company’s name in the first paragraph. This goes along with tip number one and makes your letter much more personal. The last thing a company wants to see is a generic letter that you copy and pasted to fifty different employers.
3. In the first or second paragraph, state a reason why you would be a great fit for the job based on something you’ve been able to research about the company. I completely understand that a job is a job in this economy. We aren’t always picky when the words “full time with benefits” are tossed around. This doesn’t mean that you can’t look up the company’s website and do a little googling to find out more about the company you’d like to work for.
Bad Example: I have a wide range of skills that would make me the perfect candidate for Company X.
Good Example: In researching your company, I noticed that Company X offers social media services. My freelance social media consulting work has actually required to me to do the same tasks listed on your website.
4. Avoid overusing cliche phrase like “determined and innovative individual”, or saying that you have a “passion for _____” . Believe me, I’ve been guilty of both of these! If you are a dedicated and passionate worker, instead try to briefly describe how you exemplify these traits.
Bad Example: I have a passion for writing, so I would be honored to work Town X Newspaper.
Good Example: In addition to my full time job as a content editor, I write freelance articles, and run my own blog.
In my opinion, a passion should speak for itself.
5. Keep length in mind! Growing up, when my mom would edit my essays she would tell me to “add more meat” but stay away from “fluff”. While meat is meaningful content, fluff falls more into the “I have a passion for…” category. By keeping your cover letter brief but pointed, you will catch an interviewers attention, and keep it.
6. Sign your cover letter with a “Sincerely”, followed your full name, your contact info, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.
7. Always attach a resume!!!!!!!!
What do you think post grads? Would you cringe if I was the one reviewing your cover letter, or do you agree with my check list? I’d love to hear your input and some more cover letter tips!