Don’t underestimate the power of the cover letter in securing your dream job. Check out our do’s and don’ts to help you write one that stands out.
In today’s fast-changing job market, there are many conflicting opinions about whether a cover letter still matters. Traditionally, it was intended as a supplement to your resume — a chance to show off what else you bring to the table. For today’s managers, it can still be a deciding factor when choosing one great candidate over another. Unless you are specifically asked not to submit a cover letter — in which case don’t! — consider these do’s and don’ts for crafting a cover letter that could be the clincher.
do spend proper time on it
Dedicating a few precious hours to putting together a well-written cover letter sends a clear message to a potential employer: you’re a strong candidate who cares about the details and is willing to go the extra mile to do things well.
don’t repeat yourself
Avoid rehashing what you already say on your resume. Here’s what to include instead:
- State clearly what role you are applying for and why.
- Show how you are qualified for the job, using keywords from the job description.
- Take the chance to highlight any other relevant achievements, such as fundraising for a local charity, independently pursuing an advanced Excel qualification or volunteering at a local youth club.
do be honest
Many post-pandemic job seekers have gaps in their career history and are either upskilling or changing careers entirely. Now’s your opportunity to address any potential concerns and demonstrate your passion for continuous learning and development.
don’t make it too long
You’re not writing a book or going for a Pulitzer. Keep it short, snappy and to the point — 200 to 400 words is considered optimal. That’s one page max. Call attention to your achievements but avoid bragging. Bringing in a bit of your personality will help an employer decide if you’ll fit in with the team, but don’t go overboard — now is not the time for your life story.
do be positive
This is not the place to complain about previous bosses, the pandemic or any other grievance you might have. Likewise, nobody really wants to hear about the skills or experience you don’t have. Focus on what you have to offer and your key professional goals.
don’t talk money
A cover letter is not an appropriate place to raise your salary expectations, and no prospective employer wants to think this is all you care about. Unless specifically asked, leave the money talk until you’re face-to-face.
do proofread, then proofread again
Glaring typos are one of the biggest pitfalls when writing a cover letter. It’s estimated that between 50 and 70 percent of recruiters and managers will reject an applicant’s cover letter if it has spelling errors or poor grammar, so use a spell-checker and have a friend or family member look it over: