It may seem logical to craft just one cover letter that details your skills and experience. It may even save time to use a template you can send to all potential employers. However, this common mistake during the job search could be limiting your career opportunities. Templates are impersonal, and hiring managers can easily detect general language. Show hiring managers that you are seeking a personal connection and are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to personalize your application materials. Find out how to avoid impersonal cover letters so you stand out among the rest of the candidate pool.
Avoid Common Language
Every cover letter template begins with a general statement about the position the candidate is seeking or how they learned about the job opening. Leave out the generalities, and personalize your letter with an introductory paragraph that captures interest. Tell a story about a work experience that is related to the open position, or highlight something noteworthy you learned about the company while researching. Toss the standard language, and make each cover letter you write unique and personal.
Drop the Elevator Pitch
Although it is important to prepare an elevator pitch for networking events, your cover letter is not the place to use it. Instead of highlighting all your skills and qualifications, pinpoint skills desired or required by the company. Comb through the job description, and use keywords found within your cover letter. For example, if the job description notes the need for a team player or strong communicator, provide scenarios or examples in which you have displayed these skills. Include your experience with equipment, software or hardware that is detailed in the job description, too. These keywords are included in the company's job ad for a reason. You can use them to your advantage when personalizing your cover letter.
Don't Create Distance
Even though you have not yet met the hiring manager, it doesn't mean you can't make a personal connection in your cover letter. Avoid creating a distance that may be hard to bridge. Instead, mention what you know about the potential employer and reference any employees who referred you. If you met the hiring manager at a job fair or networking event, use this to your advantage. Mention that is was nice meeting the person, and remind them of how you have connected in the past. A potential employer who remembers your face and your name is more likely to call you in for an interview if you have made a personal connection.
Avoid Repeating Your Resume
A cover letter is designed to expand upon the experience, skills and achievements listed on your resume. It should not just repeat the same information. Personalize the letter by showing off your personality. Provide examples of how you met deadlines, interacted successfully with clients and worked in teams. Research the company extensively to get an idea of the culture. Use this information to set the tone within your cover letter. For example, read through the company blogs to determine if the tone of the writing is traditional, innovative, casual or reliant on industry jargon.
Eliminate the Robot Approach
Hiring managers read through hundreds of cover letters. If your letter reads exactly the same way as your competition, you are less likely to stand out or make a good impression. Instead, let your personality shine through within the letter. Beyond providing specific skills and examples of achievements, show how you can fill this need. Use confident language, and state assertively that you are the best fit for the position. Back up this statement with examples of how you can impact productivity and profitability while also meshing well with the internal culture.
Writing a cover letter is a challenging task, but by personalizing the document, you increase your opportunities for employment. Make a connection right away with hiring managers by showing off your personality, your professionalism and your willingness to join the team.
Photo Courtesy of Suzanne 245 at Flickr.com