Cover Letter Do's & Don'ts
Many recruiters take about 30 seconds to determine if your résumé has the right credentials and skills. Assuming you do, the cover letter is a way of introducing yourself to them, especially when you cannot be there in person. It also serves the important function of demonstrating your written communication ability. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
The Opening Paragraph
- States the reason for the letter.
- Include the specific referral source - where did you find the job?
- Sound excited!
- Use info you have learned about the company, its products or services explain how you can help achieve its objectives.
- Why are one to two key qualification you need to help the employer focus in on?
- How does your academic background qualify you?
- Point out your specific/unique achievements but don't duplicate your résumé info.
The Closing Paragraph
- State your interest in an interview and indicate your flexibility in time and place.
- Repeat your contact info.
- Indicate your plan for following up on the receipt of your application materials.
- Remember your signature and typed name.
- Address the letter correctly!
- Double check names, addresses and job titles, position numbers.
- Make it easy to read, this is a critical element! Looks aren't everything but they do make a statement. Block format works well.
- Customize each cover letter to relate to the position - meet each employer's need, explain and expand your experiences and career direction, show who you are, use clear concise statements.
- Vary the sentence structure.
- Sound excited about the opportunity.
- Keep it to ONE page, 3 – 4 paragraphs MAX.
- Use the same paper and font style as your résumé - continuity is important.
- Check and recheck spelling and grammar.
- Maintain punctuation and capitalization standards.
- Remember to sign it.
- Frequent "I" statements
- Restating your résumé
- Being arrogant or presumptuous
- Sounding bored or like everyone else