Sometimes making your worklife more productive means the most drastic change–finding another job when the time comes. In addition to having a resume that will blow the hiring manager’s socks off, you also need a great cover letter. Your resume needs to be escorted to someone’s inbox. Your resume needs an explainer. Your resume contains your name, but it doesn’t say what position you’re applying for or demonstrate that you know something about the company. That’s what a cover letter does. And I’ve collected some top notch advice about crafting them in this month’s issue of The Help Files.
Sometimes we say things we shouldn’t. So do our cover letters. The Brazen Careerist’s Max Lytvyn gives six examples of seemingly innocent lines that sink your chances of being considered a serious candidate. This includes such gems as, “My skills and experience are an excellent fit for this position.” Ever guilty of this? Me too.
If you’re a “mature” (read: over 50) job hunter, you need to up your game. The process is a shade more complex, but you can handle it. Don’t mention having 30 years of experience. That labels you as “dad” or worse, “grandpa.” Don’t tell them. Show them. Another phrase to avoid: “seasoned professional.” Flexjobs’ Carol Cochran has more tips for you.
Basics include addressing your cover letter to a human (Do NOT type, “To whom it may concern”) and being memorable. Jennifer Parris of Flexjobs explains these tips and more.
Most cover letters are formulaic and mundane. You look up “how to write a cover letter” on the web, and copy the first template you see. But you need to compelling enough to stand out from the rest of the pile and grab an employer’s attention. Lifehacker’s Adam Dachis shows you how.
If you’re applying for a job by email, chances are good that your cover letter is in Word format and you attached it to the email message. The hiring manager is going to open the email, read your introduction, and probably hit DELETE. Lifehacker’s Dave Greenbaum explains what you should do instead.
Your cover letter needs to do more than blandly state your statistical facts. Instead of sitting there with the other boring cover letters, yours should motivate the hiring manager to take a look at your resume. Fastcodesign’s Jessica Hagy has a few tips on how to accomplish this.
One of the several cover letter mistakes you can make when sending in an application via email is…wait for it…NOT including a cover letter at all. Some people are lazy enough to do that and therefore sell themselves short by not taking advantage of the publicity a cover letter offers you. Careerrealism’s Jessica Holbrook Hernandez fills you in you on the other six goofs you are committing.
One tip is to show the company that you’ve done some research on them. The Undercover Recruiter has nine more tips for you.
Cover letters are a necessity when we are looking for jobs. Cover letters that work are essential to landing the critical interview. Payscale’s Jessica Hubley Luckwaldt shows us how to tackle a task that would seem worthy of “Mad Men’s” Don Draper.
Now that you’ve written a great cover letter to go along with your top-notch resume, to whom do you send it? “To Whom It May Concern” might have worked for the Victorians, but it won’t fly now. This requires some detective work your part, but don’t worry, Jessica Holbrook Hernandez of Great Resumes Fast has the nitty-gritty on what you need to do.
Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content developers? Drop me a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com. Send me a Tweet: @craigcardimon.