When it comes to the job hunt, writing a stand out CV can be a distressing task for anyone. Students, graduates, employees – we all have to do it. But what people forget is that the cover letter has just as much importance in influencing a job application.
What is a cover letter?
It is a letter that is sent to accompany a CV when applying for a job and is a great asset to an application. It is the first sales pitch of yourself to a potential future employer and is a chance to show how you are a suitable and fitting candidate for the job role. It is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd, so don’t mess it up! Here are a few pointers that on what NOT to do:
Wrongly addressing the employer
It will look extremely unprofessional and lazy on your behalf if the receiver of the letter has not been directly addressed. Common terms of address such as “To whom it may concern” are a strict no no. Take initiative and call the company to find out the name of the person to whom you should write your letter to. This will impress your reader and show you have taken time and effort to finding the relevant person to contact.
Less is more, so keep it short. You will want to engage the reader and persuade them into thinking you are an interesting and suitable candidate to hire. Droning on for ages will just bore them, so aim for 3 paragraphs to a page and make it juicy.
Don’t be informal
Don’t attempt at making jokes as it will just look gimmicky and very unprofessional. Think of your letter as a business proposal – keep it succinct, inform them of the skills you can offer to the company and why you are what they are looking for.
Leave out anything negative
Don’t over share details of your personal life or career history that might be misconstrued negatively by a potential employer; and never speak badly about a past employer. Believe the best and speak the best of everyone; it makes you look good. No company wants to hire someone that’s bad mouthing a former employer—because they know, should they hire you and the relationship doesn’t work out, they’ll be bad mouthed next.
Don’t sound generic
Cover letters should be a reflection of your personality. It is a chance to really sell yourself, but ensure that the letter stands out for the right reasons. Don’t use the generic or standard cliché’s of “I am passionate and hard-working”; be innovative and tailor your skillset to match the job requirements. For example, if a job description says “Looking for a creative, innovative and focussed individual…” embed these skills in your cover letter and show the company your suitability for the job role. Perhaps mention specific work that the company you are applying for has done that inspired you to apply for the job. This will further impress an employer by showing you have done your research and will surely stand out.
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