Your cover letter, if executed properly, can be a powerful tool in your job search. It goes beyond the information listed on your resume, and really illustrates who you are as a candidate and why you're perfect for the job. Once you put together your cover letter, make sure it hits all the right marks by asking yourself the following three questions.
1. Is It Customized to the Company?
Most hiring managers can spot a generic cover letter from miles away. if your letter begins with "To Whom It May Concern," it won't make it very far. Show the employer you've done your due diligence by using the hiring manager's name and including a few details about the company in your opening paragraph. After all, it'll be a hard sell trying to convince the company you're right for the position if you have no idea about the company's background or mission. Use its website and social media pages to familiarize yourself with its values and needs, and center your cover letter around what you can bring to the table.
2. Is It Concise?
Don't try to include every detail of your professional history in your cover letter, or you'll end up with a dense, text-heavy document that is a pain to try and muddle through. The idea is to introduce yourself, briefly explain how your work history and background make sense for the company and for the position, and then conclude with a call to action. You should be able to accomplish this with a neat, one-page document that flows with short, easy-to-read paragraphs. Anything else the employer wants to know will come from your resume and the answers you give during the interview.
3. Are There Any Errors?
After all your hard work in putting together a concise, compelling cover letter, it would be a shame to let it all go to waste because of a few careless spelling or grammar errors. An innocent typo is not a guaranteed deal-breaker for some hiring managers, but it certainly doesn't make you look good. If the job requires stellar written communication skills, you can pretty much count yourself out. Using your computer's spell-checker is a good start but should not be the only method for proofreading your document. Have a friend read over your cover letter to check for errors you may have missed, and then read it aloud to yourself to make sure it flows the way you want it to flow.
A strong cover letter sends a powerful message to hiring managers that you are a great match for the job, and it is worth their time to get to know you better. Invest enough time and energy to ensure your cover letter is tailored to the company and position, is free of errors, and tells a compelling story in a few succinct paragraphs.
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