When applying to a recruiting firm like Walrath, job seekers often opt out of submitting the cover letter. The resume is typically our starting point in terms of recruiting an individual for a position, so an application sans cover letter is perfectly fine; we’ll request additional info that one might include within the content of a cover letter if needed.
What about those who do choose to submit cover letters? And all of the companies that require cover letters as part of their individual application packages? The document must be on point, otherwise it can significantly decrease your chances of getting a phone or in-person interview. It can make a strong first impression that will either lead your application to additional reviews or the trash can.
So, what are you doing wrong? The job seeking issue could lie within the content of your cover letter:
Keep the letter length to one page, single or double spaced, and address it to the hiring manager. Use the manager’s actual name if it’s indicated in the job listing; if you are unsure, “Dear Hiring Manager” is a safe option.
Make the content count. Avoid lazy filler phrases (“I just love your company!” and “Allow me the time to introduce myself”) and construct two to three great paragraphs that the reader will appreciate:
– keep in mind that the cover letter should compliment a resume rather than reiterate it. Avoid explaining the bullet points of experience you listed in your resume; instead, include fresh detail that enhances your expertise. Didn’t fit on the resume? Include it in the cover letter. Feel that your experience doesn’t provide a clear snapshot of you as a professional, or that many skills do not “fit” in the body of your resume? Include this information in a cover letter, written in paragraph form (of course.)
– Avoid sending generic-sounding letters that you’ve clearly mass-produced. Stay away from copying cover letter templates from the internet as well. Aim to sound human, personal, and most of all, genuinely interested in the specific company you’re applying for (and if you’re not interested in the company’s mission and services, then you shouldn’t apply!)
– How do you see yourself as part of the company? What can you contribute? Describe how and why you would be a great fit, and avoid a laundry list of ways that the company can help you. Your cover letter should be a healthy mix of how your skills can benefit the hiring company.
– Never highlight weaknesses; play up the skills you have by describing how they relate to the job you’re applying for!
In addition to your resume and/or cover letter, there are many reasons as to why your job search seems to be at a standstill. Next up? Examining follow-up tactics, interview skills and other potential communication blunders.