The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that job hunters should customize each resume and cover letter to the advertised position. Resumes will benefit from succinct cover letters that ideally will increase engagement while highlighting core competencies. Keep reading to learn how to create the perfect cover letter that will land you an interview and hopefully a better job.
1. Customize The Resume & Cover Letter
One of the most common mistakes that job hunters make is to re-summarize their resume in their cover letter. The primary purposes of the cover letter are to express interest in the position and company while connecting relevant skills and applicable experiences. The cover letter allows job seekers to express their personality, share their passion for the industry and demonstrate how they will fit into the business culture. The perfect cover letter should succinctly cite talents and accomplishments that are aligned with the desired qualities and qualifications in the job description. It may help to copy and re-use keywords from the job ad into the cover letter.
2. The Keys To Using Keywords
Applicant tracking systems have strong screening filters and algorithms that use keywords to review and rank resumes and cover letters. Broad keywords, such as finance and operations, don’t tell recruiters, human resources and staffing firm professionals about specific skills and job experiences. Instead, use specific terms like operations analyst and account auditor. Vague and generic terms don’t help whoever is reading the cover letter to understand precise positions, departmental roles, and individual accomplishments. Consider paying attention to the context and incorporate distinctive titles and terms into your cover letter.
3. How To Improve Email Cover Letters
When HR professionals read cover letters, they often consider what is in it for them and the company. That is, they are searching for impressive job candidates who can quickly become permanent assets and model employees. Focus on the subject line because the content may impact whether your letter gets read or ignored. It should be job title specific and include requested information, such as the job number. HR managers and staffing professionals are busy, so they will appreciate an email cover letter that two to three hundred words or fewer. Bullet points and short paragraphs are recommended, uncommon fonts and unfamiliar abbreviations are not.
4. Avoid These Four Mistakes
First, avoid including boastful superlatives, such as the perfect fit and the best candidate, because it can come across as being overconfident. Second, omit generic career objectives such as seeking full-time employment in a stable organization with advancement opportunities. HR professionals are not interested in what job hunters want because they want to know if the cover letter candidate can solve their staffing problems and help make the company successful. Third, avoiding including negative comments about past employers or why you had to leave the previous position. Fourth, replace overused industry buzzwords, such as team player and hard worker, with content that demonstrates skills.
5. Go Beyond Proofreading
Resumes, applications and cover letters must be grammatically perfect without any spelling errors. However, a well-written cover letter doesn’t mean that it is readable, engaging and well-structured. Go beyond proofreading by reading the cover letter out loud and logically analyzing how it flows and sounds. A cover letter is basically a sample of your future work quality and communication skills, so it’s important to write lean, sound intelligent and be results-driven. Forbes magazine says that cover letters should be short and succinct. Job hunters who ramble on with excessive and redundant information will likely not make a good impression.
Finally, it’s helpful to maintain balance between a personal tone and professional presentation. HR professionals may only spend a few seconds skimming through your cover letter, so being direct, honest and realistic may be beneficial. Another useful tip is to use a professional staffing firm that can represent your employment interests and help you find the right job. Part two will provide advice for specific industries and types of jobs.