A good cover letter can work in your favor, while a bad one can cost you the interview. As a recruiter, I read every resume and cover letter that come at my desk. I would venture an educated guess that I have read 1000’s of resumes and cover letters during my career.
Let’s discuss 5 things you need in a cover letter and 4 things to avoid.
You name and contact information – so many people don’t know that even though your cover letter is attached to you application, some ATS(Applicant Tracking System) can require the recruiter to download the document. In this case, having your information will be helpful and easier for the recruiter to tie together your story with your skills.
Your work story – Your cover letter is a supplement to your resume. Something you send to boost your candidacy. Tell the reader what your resume might not say. You can list a few achievements that are related to the job. Any employment gaps that you might have. Why such short stints, did you contract a lot?
Why you are a good fit for this job – look at the skills required by the job and IF you have them, tell the reader that.
Why you want to work for the company – What made you apply to that company when so many companies are hiring? Besides the fact that they are hiring. While it’s a good joke, it will cost you the job. What is it about their job/company/industry? Go beyond I am passionate about XYZ industry. What makes you passionate about that thing?
DO research and address the recruiter directly. Or If it’s a small company with no recruiter/HR person do more research and address the hiring manager directly. I have also seen people address it to the CEO. Not the title CEO, but the actual person. While it may be nice, unless it’s a 5 person company with no recruiter/HR person, the CEO might never read it.
Things to avoid:
Grammatical errors – I get it, not everyone is good at spelling. But with technology where it is, and the fact that Grammarly exists for free on top of MS Word and Google Doc’s spell check capability, there is no excuse for you to misspell Detail-Oriented.
Your resume reiterated – Your cover letter is a supplement to your application. Add things that your resume doesn’t cover. No one wants your resume regurgitated in your cover letter. It’s a waste of your time and the readers time.
No personalization – I have read many cover letters that were not only addressed to the wrong position but the wrong company. The wrong position I understand if you applied to more than one position, the wrong company is not an excuse. Save your cover letter as follows: FIRST NAME_LAST NAME_COMPANY NAME and if necessary _JOB TITLE
Picture on yourself – There is bias everywhere, adding a picture, you are subjecting yourself to further bias. Don’t do it. Let them base the decision of accepting or rejecting you based on your skills and qualifications