|Wall of Shame|
|Written by Abby Kohut|
In the past few weeks I have been reading more than my fair share of cover letters. What amazes me is that despite all of the information available on the internet and in the bookstores, the same mistakes are being made over and over again. I, Absolutely Abby, am hereby doing my part to rid the world of all poorly written cover letters and to restore the faith the hiring managers have in the job seeker to express themselves appropriately.
Remember the last time you went shopping for a big ticket item such as a car? In many cases, the salesman showed you a shiny, polished piece of collateral that explained the item in great detail. Can you learn about the car without the collateral? Of course. But the collateral is part of the sales pitch - it explains the features and benefits of the car and tells you why you should buy it. Your cover letter is your resume's collateral so it must highlight your strengths to the reader.
You should include a cover letter as often as possible, but at least when you are applying for a job that you are extremely interested in. I continue to hear stories about people who landed in positions that were far less qualified than their competition. In almost every case, the job seekers wrote a stellar cover letter to get their foot in the door, that by the time they interviewed they were half way there.
Make an attempt to address your letter to an actual person rather than using Dear Sir or Madam. To find the name of the hiring manager, try searching on Google or LinkedIn. Even a good guess scores you points because it indicates that you tried harder than everyone else.
Make sure that you mention the name of the company in the letter followed by an explanation of why you are interested in working for them. Make sure that you really mean what you say. Recruiters have a way of sensing when you are being less than truthful. Our goal is to hire people who sincerely want to work at our company - it's the job of your cover letter to convince us.
At the same time as you are writing creatively, be sure that you are writing grammatically. In other words, have an English savvy friend check it for you and offer suggestions on how to improve it. When recruiters are faced with large stacks of resumes for new positions, you'll never make the first cut if they notice even one spelling or grammar mistake on your resume or cover letter. These mistakes are the eye's equivalent of "nails on a chalkboard".
Over the years, I've saved a dozen or so resumes that had comical mistakes on them. I refer to these affectionately as my "Wall of Shame". Here are just a few examples from resumes that ended up in my collection:
Double check, triple check and quadruple check your cover letter. And then check it again. You can never be too obsessed about getting the details right.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Your cover letter is your sales presentation and it can make you or break you. The key is to give the reader a small glimpse into your background, which encourages them to want to learn more by reading your resume. As simple as this sounds, writing a good cover letter takes practice and patience. Trust me… it will be absolutely worth all the hard work in the end.