Cover letters are an essential hiring tool for most hiring managers; job applicants should realize that the cover letter is significant in their application process. Whether you’re a student, a recent grad or a seasoned professional, your cover letter is your first opportunity to introduce yourself, present your qualifications, and show the employer that you are a potential candidate for the position.
To make sure your cover letter helps you land the big interview, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when writing.
Do use proper formatting for your cover letter. You can find free templates online here.
Do address the letter to a named individual. Take time to learn the hiring manager’s name and open your letter with a proper greeting. If you can’t find the person’s name, call the company and ask the receptionist.
Do identify the position you are applying for and include any reference or identification number. Make sure your cover letter is concise and expresses your intentions clearly.
Do proofread and spellcheck your cover letter repeatedly and ask someone whose opinion you value to do the same. Often the second pair of eyes can make all the difference.
Do tell the employer why you are the right person for the job. This is your chance to showcase your skills and explain to the hiring manager how you can meet his or her needs and contribute to the company.
Do use action verbs in your writing and maintain a confident and enthusiastic tone. Think of it as a sales pitch.
Don’t use clichés, exaggerations or humour. These can be interpreted in many ways and will make you sound unprofessional. This could even deter the hiring manager from wanting to meet with you.
Don’t just repeat everything in your resume. The cover letter is meant to highlight your most significant skills and accomplishments, so be sure to include them!
Don’t depend on the employer to take action after he or she receives your cover letter. Make sure you request action and include a time and date when you will follow up on scheduling an interview.
Don’t forget to personally sign the letter. This is a great finishing touch and shows the employer you took the extra time to sign it by hand.
Don’t exceed one page. Keep in mind that the hiring manager goes through hundreds of applications and doesn’t have much time to spend on each one. Thus, your cover letter should be no more than three to four paragraphs long.
For more information about cover letters, or to get help with resume and cover letter writing, schedule an appointment with your employment coordinator or attend the next job search seminar at your campus.