Cover letters: Some job seekers swear by them, others don’t use them at all. Are cover letters really a necessity when applying for a job and are hiring managers even reading them? Opinions are divided. We recently read this article on The Guardian with these handy sample letters and thought we’d offer some handy advice when applying for jobs.
As recruiters, we’ve seen it all. We’ve received generic letters where only a company name is changed, or 2 pages of background info on an applicant, or sometimes quirky little notes with funny anecdotes. So what should you be doing when applying for a job?
Keep it short & sweet. This is the place to list a few highlights from your experience gained across several positions. Don’t rewrite your resume! Read through the key responsibilities of the job you’re applying for and highlight your experience as it relates to the key points. You don’t need to go into too much detail here, just think of it as a summary of your best bits.
Use formatting to emphasize key items. Bullet points, bold, underline, or italics can help readers very quickly see keywords or sentences that are crucial to the job you’re applying for. Go easy on the formatting, though.
Be specific about your experience. Avoid overused phrases like “team player” or “excellent communication skills”. For more information on words to avoid, read our recent blog on buzzwords. Instead, explain that you’ve “managed a team of X”, “collaborated with cross-functional departments” and “led client presentations”.
Go beyond the resume. Let’s face it – you can’t put everything on a resume. An introductory email provides a platform for mentioning relevant projects you might have worked on, hobbies or passions you may have and an opportunity to explain any issues with your resume such as a gap in experience, moving jobs frequently, etc. Make it easy for the hiring manager.
Keep it personal. Address your email to the actual hiring manager for the position. Avoid “To Whom it May Concern”. Even if you don’t know names of those hiring, ensure you customize the letter with the company name, locations and industry references to show you’ve done your homework.
Check your spelling and grammar. Nothing puts your resume in the “NO” pile faster than innocent spelling or grammar mistakes. Use your Spellcheck – but also have a set of human eyes review it for you.
Now put those skills to the test. See one of our jobs that might be right? Apply today!