Don't Let a Hiring Manager Say Pass on Your Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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Most hiring managers can spot a bad cover letter from a mile away, and just as many job seekers make the mistake of writing an overly formal, generically formatted letter that doesn't allow their qualifications to shine. Are you making the same mistakes?

Clunky Introduction

Far too many good candidates ruin first impressions by starting their cover letters with "I saw your ad on CareerBuilder, and I'm excited to apply for the position of..." First, hiring managers are well aware of the sites they've posted job ads on, so stating this information brings nothing new to the table. Moreover, it's a boring and highly overused opening line. Instead, do your research on the company beforehand and talk about what details genuinely interest and inspire you. Show the hiring manager that not only do you do your research, you have an understanding and appreciation for what they do.

Talking Only About Yourself

While the cover letter serves as an introduction from you to the hiring manager, it's really not about you at all. As the hiring manager skims your letter, he only wants to know one thing: what you can do for his company. Think of your letter as a one-page answer to that question. What skills and abilities do you possess that the company needs in order to grow and prosper? Explain how your experience and talents relate to the job description and the company's philosophies to get them to imagine you as an asset to their team.

Regurgitating Your Resume

The cover letter is not your resume in paragraph form; it is the appetizer to the entree. Don't waste valuable time and space by restating details the recruiter can get elsewhere. Consider the job and company you're applying to and carefully choose a few relevant highlights on which to focus. Present your qualifications in story form to compel the reader to ask for more.

No Call to Action

Many job seekers find it challenging to end their cover letters gracefully. While you should certainly thank the reader for their time and consideration, don't just stop there. Be more proactive by actually requesting a meeting. List your availability over the next two weeks, and tell them you look forward to their call. You've created a call to action and conveyed your assertiveness and enthusiasm all in one step.

Your cover letter is your first chance to show a recruiter who you are, so make sure it reflects your personality and enthusiasm. Start your letter with an attention-grabbing introduction, state your qualifications throughout the body of the letter, and convince them that they need to speak with you. You only get one chance to impress the hiring manager, so make your cover letter shine.

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