I often get asked, “Do I really need a cover letter?”
Although it’s true that not all recruiters and hiring managers will read your cover letter, you don’t want to take the chance by not including one, and missing out on an opportunity!
So my stance on this is that yes, you do need a cover letter.
First of all, a cover letter adds character to your resume. You become more than just your experience and titles. Your personal story can shine through.
Secondly, your cover letter is your chance to sell yourself. You should explain to the reader why they should care enough to even open your resume!
The other thing that’s important to note, through your cover letter you can explain the bits about your experience that people might question or not quite understand. If there’s an elephant in the room, it’s best to address it, rather than hoping that it mightn’t be noticed that you spent the last 2 years looking for a job, or that you spent the last 10 years working in the same role.
Here are a few mistakes that I’ve seen time and time again in people’s cover letters. Read and take heed. This is what not to do on cover letters. ☺
- Don’t write a cover letter comprising of solely the following 5 words “Please refer to attached resume.”
- No “Dear Madam/Sir”.
- Make sure when you’re applying for position X, you haven’t forgotten to customise the cover letter from position Y.
- I meet the requirements for the position.
- I’m a great communicator and a team player.
- I’m desperate, and am willing to take any job.
- I’m happy to work for less than other candidates will accept.
Your cover letter is your moment to shine a light on what makes you different. Don’t waste that space on telling the reader to refer to another document. That’s pretty obvious. They would have done that themselves, had you not told them to, that is!
There’s nothing worse than receiving a cover letter addressed this way. It shows that you haven’t taken the care or consideration to personalise your document, and haven’t taken the time to address the reader by their name.
Nobody likes feeling like another number, and recruiters and hiring managers are no exception.
Forgetting this will show that you pay very little attention to detail, and to be honest, will probably steer away most people reading it. Nobody wants an employee who is lackadaisical and will make the reader wonder, if this is you trying to make a good impression, what will you be like when you’re more comfortable at work?
Not a good look.
Really? Well, believe it or not, that’s what the other 250 people applying for this position think too.
Again, don’t waste space on your page for the sake of filling it. If you really truly are an amazing communicator and team player, follow it up with a strong example. Something that will blow the socks off of the hiring manager. Something that makes them think WOW, I want this person in my team!
If the example is anything less than that, leave that statement out altogether.
Desperation is not appealing. Not in relationships, and neither at work. This sentence also shows that you have little direction, as well as little value for your time and experience. Not the sort of person top companies want to hire.
Companies are looking for people who are outstanding employees. They’re not interested in helping you in your quest for ‘any’ job. They have goals – you need to be able to fit in with that and show them how you will help them achieve those goals.
The reader might feel sorry for you, but they won’t hire you on that basis! Make sure your cover letter focuses on what makes you the right candidate for the role, not why you need it so much.
I’ve heard people say this more than once before. They think that they’ll be more attractive to an employer if they can save them money.
The truth is, most companies will have a budget dedicated to the salary of the person that they’re recruiting and that salary falls within a particular range. You saying that you are happy to be paid less than that, won’t make you more attractive in their eyes. It may actually do the opposite.
Companies want to find the best person for the role within their budgetary constraints, not the cheapest person!