When it comes to finding a job, cover letters are possibly the most underrated part of the whole application process. Mainly due to the fact that most people think that nobody is actually reading them but you couldn’t be more wrong!
A well written cover letter is the perfect way to set yourself apart and help sell your application, not to mention convince a recruiter you’re the right person for the role. To put it simply, your cover letter is the easiest and most effective way to stand out from the crowd.
It brings something extra to the table when you apply for a job – the employer will learn more about you, your personality, what you actually want from the job and gain insight as to why you’re applying. And, as your CV is supposed to be short and sweet, your cover letter is the perfect way to elaborate on your achievements.
To make sure your cover letter lands you job interview, here are two mistakes you should avoid making in your cover letters.
MISTAKE #1 NOT PERSONALISED ENOUGH
There are so many people out there who use the same cover letter to apply for hundreds of different job positions. They think that it is enough just to change the name of the company and the name of the job position but this means that your cover letter is ultimately very general and will not convince a company that you want to work for them. Don’t make an employer feel that you have just sent out a cover letter to hundreds of different companies hoping that something will stick. And even if you are doing that, it shouldn’t be obvious!
The key to a successful cover letter is to show how you connect on a personal level with the employer and that’s what’s going to get a recruiter to put your cover letter into the “yes” pile.
How to make your cover letter more personalised?
Well, the first thing you should never do in your cover letter is start it with “To Whom It May Concern”. This is so impersonal, it shows that you couldn’t be bothered to do your homework and find out more about the company to which you are applying. And it’s so old-fashioned! It’s also what people used to write 10 years ago! So you definitely don’t want to do this. Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Recruitment Team are also not great choices.
Instead, you should try to find the name of the person dealing with the recruitment for the position and use it in your cover letter. You can use LinkedIn, Google or the company’s website to find this information. Even if you have to pick up a phone and call the company, do it! It will only take a few minutes of your time. And if you haven’t managed to find out the name, at least you know that you tried your best.
Secondly, a great way to demonstrate that you connect with your potential employer on a personal level is to explain why you chose them. Make the reader feel that they are the only company you want to work for (even if it’s not true), make them feel special and make them special not by saying how great they are, how professional or how exciting it would be for you to work there, that is way too general and everyone can see through those buzz words. You need to be as specific as possible! You need to find an emotional attachment.
How do I do this Evelina? I’m glad you asked, here are some ideas on how you can do this:
1. Tell them how you came to learn what the company does is special. Use your personal life experience to describe how you found out what they do is different, better or unique compared with their competitors. Tell them how you connect with their brand
2. Tell them about the time when you used their products or services. What better way is there to demonstrate that you connect with the company than by telling them a personal story about your unique experience with them.
3. Tell them about how your overall life experience made you connect with what the company does.
MISTAKE #2 NOT IDENTIFYING THE KEY SKILL REQUIRED FOR THE POSITION
The second mistake I so often see in cover letters is using a cover letter to recap all the information you already mentioned on your CV without identifying the key skills required for the position you are applying for. After you have convinced the company that they are the only company you want to work for, it’s time for you to convince the company that you are the best candidate for the job. This is how you do it.
You need to very carefully read the job description identifying the key skills required for the job you are applying for. In job descriptions companies describe the qualities their ideal employee should exemplify. Basically, you want the reader to be convinced that you are that person.
A lot of people decide that they are good at a particular task or are skilled in a particular way and keep using this information in every single cover letter, but what if the prospective company has no need of these attributes? This will be the reason your cover letter will be put into the “no” pile.
You only need to focus on the skills the job requires, also don’t forget to add a narrative as to how and where you developed these skills. Only after giving this granular detail then you can add additional features of your skill-set, but you should really only add them if the company would actually benefit. And also be sure to explain how these additional skills would add to the company’s success.
If you are struggling with writing cover letters, I suggest you to enrol to my online course "GET THAT INTERVIEW" where I will explain step by step how to write a strong and compelling cover letter, in addition to creating a targeted CV and eye-catchy LinkedIn profile.