It’s often overlooked and quite frankly, it shouldn’t be. The cover letter, as you’re probably already aware, can help your resume shine. That is, if you have an effective one.
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Want to avoid being that guy or gal?
You know what we’re talking about. You submit a stellar resume, have a solid connection to the company and bam! Your cover letter stinks.
Well, we’re pretty sure if you’re able to avoid some of these initial blunders you’ll succeed in avoiding the slush pile .
1. To Whom It May Concern. Just don’t do it. Louise Kursmark, the author of 15-Minute Cover Letter told U.S. News & World Report, ”The employer should say who they want the letter to be addressed to.” Read more
Ever feel like you’re putting too much pressure on yourself with the job search? Maybe you’re stressing certain things that aren’t even important in the eyes of the hiring manager and recruiter.
Well, as per a post on U.S. News & World Report, there are a few items you don’t need to fret about any more.
1. Your cover letter. Whether or not you address it to a hiring manager or specific person, it doesn’t really matter; content is what counts. Is it succinct yet informative? Spot on with grammar and spelling? Good, that’s all that counts.
2. Your resume design. In the piece, Alison Green writes, “What employers want from your resume design is a document that’s clean and uncluttered, easy to scan, not overly fancy, and puts the information we want in the places we expect to find it. Whatever design you choose that achieves those goals is fine with us.”
3. Your resume length. One or two pages? That is the question but definitely not a deal breaker. It’s fine for resumes to encompass two pages; anything longer than that will start feeling copious. This means you can fiddle with margins and fonts to fit it into two pages (or of course, magnify it if you’re right out of school and need to fill up space on a page.)
4. Your “personal brand.” Green reminds us employers don’t really care about personal brands. Rather, what’s truly important is doing good work. She points out in the piece, “The evangelists telling you that you must build a unique and recognizable personal brand are looking for a new concept to sell you in an overcrowded marketplace. Employers—the people actually thinking about hiring you—could care less. Do good work and build a good reputation, and forget the branding hype.”
5. Your thank-you note. If you’re torn between the e-mailed note or snail mailed one, fret not. The recruiter isn’t going to focus on form of communication but a.) the point that you sent one and b.) if it expresses enthusiasm and c.) references a point made during the interview. Similar to the cover letter, be sure it’s flawless with content.
Of course, the goal is to leave a lasting positive impression so whether or not you put a stamp on a note or quickly sent one via modern technology, the point is you’re expressing interest, you’re thanking them for their time, and following up.
There’s nothing like a little grammar lesson on a Friday afternoon, right?
Our friends at JIST Publishing outlined several ways to polish that resume and make it shimmy and shine (okay, okay so we’re a bit punchy here on a Friday). David F. Noble, Ph.D., author of Gallery of Best Cover Letters, includes over 300 sample cover letters and 20 resumes in his book.
Ah, the dreaded cover letter. Many people cringe writing it but truth be told, a recruiter and hiring manager probably won’t spend too much time on it anyway. The key to standing out during their limited attention is to know your audience.
So, in the media realm depending on the tone of the outlet you’re targeting, your letter can be punchy and succinct or a bit more serious; technically it’s not unlike a freelance pitch for a story. David Noble, Ph.D., and author of Gallery of Best Cover Letters, advises, “The more you know about the reader of your cover letter, the better you can tailor its content to appeal to that person.”
While his book provides more than 300 samples of cover letters, the author says to make the letter as personal as possible. That is, avoid the “To Whom It May Concern” salutation and instead address it to a specific person.
His advice? “If you have not been able to make a personal contact, at least do everything possible to find out the name of the person who will read your letter and resume, and then address the letter to that person.” Athough a magazine’s masthead may make it easier for us in the print world, digital outlets may make the name hunting a little bit more challenging. Therefore, cold calling the receptionist is a place to start.
As for how to handle it if a contact suggested you forward it to his or her contact, be sure to “say this in the first sentence of your cover letter.” Mention the mutual contact’s name so you can get past a gatekeeper who may be sorting through the letters.
In addition to the basics like researching the company and tossing in some information like a recent positive news blurb to show you’re keeping abreast of them, end it on a light note. Noble explains, “Toward the end of the cover letter, consider repeating the recipient’s name to convey friendliness and to provide a personal touch.”