Your cover letter is almost as important as your resume when you are applying to a job. It can be tempting to embellish your experience and skills in your cover letter, especially if you are dying to get into that dream job that has just opened up, but beware: stretching the truth can do your career as much harm as having a weak resume.
You Can't Fake It Until You Make It
It can be tempting to make yourself sound much more skilled than you actually are when you are writing your cover letter, but this can backfire. Skills such as knowing a foreign language and technical or computer skills aren't the kinds of things you can learn on the fly. Instead, take it upon yourself to start learning these skills before you apply, and indicate in your cover letter that you are making the effort to develop those skills.
This honest approach not only shows that you are a candidate with integrity, it also shows that you are willing to work in order to develop the skills that the employer desires. A willingness to work hard always looks good on any resume or cover letter, and it could land you an interview.
Don't Flaunt Your Flaws
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your cover letter highlights your flaws or has a negative tone, your resume may never be seen. Don't overstate your abilities or experience, but don't underestimate yourself, either. Take a straightforward approach in your cover letter, highlighting the things you do well and the positive experiences that you have had. Give the employer a good idea of how you will benefit the company if you are hired for the job.
Understand the Difference Between Your Cover Letter and Your Resume
Consider your cover letter a chance to get into the details of your work history and experience. Take this opportunity to answer some of the why and how questions your resume doesn't address. A resume is more of a straightforward statement of your work history and related job skills. It can tell an employer what you do, but not show them who you are. Make sure your cover letter is as individual as you are and an accurate representation of the employee you will be when you are hired for the job.
Resist the temptation to exaggerate on a cover letter to get a chance at that dream job. Employers who are fooled by a sparkling cover letter and dazzling resume will be angry and resentful if they feel that you tricked them into hiring you. It's far better to rely on your true abilities and merits to obtain the job you want, and you'll be more likely to keep it once you've been hired.
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