One of the most overlooked pieces of applying for a job is the effectiveness of a cover letter. Candidates spend most of their time beefing up their resumes, while putting cover letters on the backburner or throwing them out entirely. This is one of the biggest mistakes a candidate can make. Take advantage of adding a cover letter to your application.
Resumes focus on tangible skill sets or experience. A cover letter helps paint the whole picture. The majority of hiring managers will tell you that a personality fit is considered equally to someone’s qualifications on paper. Now, how can you illustrate those intangibles on your resume? Simple answer: you can’t. This is the purpose of adding a cover letter.
Here are a few tips on an effective cover letter:
1. Be specific. You should not write a generic cover letter. Tailor every cover letter to the company and position you are applying for.
2. Formal vs. Too Formal. The business environment has changed and so has the language you use in business. Be formal but steer away from the old school ways of doing so. Be conversational.
3. Tangible vs. Intangible. This is the time to tell them the type of person you are and how hardworking you may be. Complete the entire picture of who you are and sell yourself. If you are searching for specifics in culture or job duties, put that in there. This will allow you to interview them before they interview you. Every position you apply for is not going to be a perfect fit for what you are looking for.
4. Referrals. Your cover letter gives you the opportunity to name drop. If someone referred you, put it in there.
5. How to End. Always put a date, time, and avenue to follow up your application. This prepares the hiring manager for your follow-up and also illustrates how responsible and persistent you are. You would be amazed how many candidates actually put this in their resume but do not follow through with it. It’s a double sided sword. Follow up!
Cover letters should be 1 page in length. Everything should be positive. Do not forget to proof read.
-Kurt Peters, Resource Manager at Kavaliro