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To Cover Letter or Not To Cover Letter…

cover letter -linkedin

An interesting post popped up in one of my networking groups: Are cover letters old fashioned? Do they add anything to the CV? Do recruiters even read them anymore?

As a marketing content writer for a HR company, the subject took me by surprise: perhaps I’m old fashioned? Out of date? After all, the old rule of thumb is that each CV in the application pile gets less than 10 seconds of attention before it’s delegated to either the trash or the stash. So would a well thought out, time consuming cover letter be ignored or take up valuable real estate in that 10 second window?

 

The network responses came back hard and fast: for every job you apply for in your job search, you must include a personalized cover letter. And not just any letter: one that demonstrates your personality, your capabilities and succinctly summarizes what you are looking for and how you can contribute to the company.

 

Why should I write a cover letter? Isn’t my resume enough?

Writing a cover letter can be time consuming, but it is usually a primary screening process. It not only reveals your personality, but can also demonstrate that you are pro-active, that you consider the company you are applying to worth your time and that you are not simply sending out hundreds of resumes willy nilly to anyone who will pay.

Your CV tells recruiters that you possess the skills and competencies to fulfill the job requirements. The cover letter demonstrates if you are the right person to join their team.

 

So how do I write a killer cover letter?
Here are 5 points that’ll make your cover letter shine!

  1. Get to the point – Make sure your first line includes the position you are applying for and why they should give you the job!
  2. Use buzz words – Show you are business and industry savvy. Inject adjectives to describe yourself and your experience, such as “successful”, “excellent” or “professional.” Apply standard industry terms appropriately such as ROI, USP, SEO and SMM and don’t spell these terms out – it makes you look like you searched for the right terms on Google!
  3. Include a clear CTA – Call me! Contact me! Hire me! These are your call-to-action standards and you want to spell it out. Without them your cover letter will sound wishy-washy, without focus or worse – it might demonstrate you are not a closer!
  4. Make a positive impression – Your cover letter is your chance to show off what you can offer, so include your most recent successes (ie. “I had a consistent 82%+ conversion rate in my last position,” or “I had the highest sales in the company for 3 months running!). And make sure you link how these successes can benefit the company you are applying to.
  5. Choose your words carefully – You have a short space to write and there is a fine line between leaving an impression that you are a fun and creative person to work with or an egotistical clown who is more interested in workplace popularity than in getting the job done right!

 

 

What 6 common mistakes do I need to avoid?

  1. To many ‘I’’s – I know it’s hard. This is a short letter from you and essentially about you, but too many ‘I’’s gives the impression that you are egotistical and more focused on yourself than on the company or the position. So always review your cover letters and find inventive ways to cut at least three ‘I’’s out of your letter before sending.

               For example:

              “I can write emails, I can answer phones, I have over 5 years of experience negotiating with customers

               and I always achieve my goals”

               Could be reworded:

               “I can write emails, answer phones, have over 5 years of experience negotiating with customers and I

               always achieve my goals!”

               Or:

              “I live near your office so I will be available at short notice to come in during an emergency. I have over

               5 years of experience, I have a degree in applied mathematics and I have a second degree in

              psychology, so I have more than enough skills and experience in my field.”

              Could be reworded:  

              “Commuting to the office will be a breeze, so there will be no problem coming in at short notice if an

              emergency arises. And with over 5 years of experience, a degree in applied mathematics and a second

              degree in psychology, you can count on my skills to get the job done right and according to best industry

              practices.”

  1. Review, edit and spellcheck – There is nothing that moves a resume to the trash faster than easily avoidable spelling and grammar mistakes. It only takes about a minute, but sending a cover letter with mistakes demonstrates a lack of care, consideration and respect. Not exactly the most desirable work traits, no matter what your qualifications!
  2. Cut it down – including the greeting and sign off, your cover letter should be between 5 – 10 lines and no more! Any longer demonstrates either an overinflated ego, that you are unsure of yourself or that you have trouble getting to the point. Not to mention that 10 second rule…
  3. Don’t summarize your resume – Don’t waste valuable real estate repeating what they could see at a glance in your resume. The purpose of the cover letter is to make a personal impression.
  4. Express yourself – Make sure your cover letter projects your personality. This is your chance to show that you are not just qualified (that’s what the CV is for), but that you are an interesting / hard-working / considerate / careful / fun / outgoing person to work alongside.
  5. Keep it professional and intriguing – Don’t include your hobbies, home life, personal preferences, wage expectations, etc. You want them to call you for a job interview, not to go out for drinks. Provide a taste of how you could benefit their workplace and then leave them wanting to meet and know more.

 

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, a fantastic cover letter alone won’t get you hired, but it will get you past the first culling process. It needs to be backed up with a clean, succinct and professional CV, with proactive interview skills and with great references to support your claims.

 

And when you upload your CV to YFXjobs, you get a caring and experienced HR adviser who will talk with your references personally, provide the company with a glowing referral and make sure your cover letters hit the jackpot!

 

 

 

 For more top tips on how to write a great, professional cover letter, check out Seth Porges’ 6 Secrets To Writing A Great Cover Letter from Forbes at:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sethporges/2012/08/29/6-secrets-to-writing-a-great-cover-letter/#2e7320ae28e4

 

Or Amy Gallo’s How to Write a Cover Letter from the Harvard Business Review at:

https://hbr.org/2014/02/how-to-write-a-cover-letter


August 24, 2016

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