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Cover Letter Do’s & Don’ts for Smart Job Seekers

- June 11, 2013

Standing out from millions of other job seekers is flat-out difficult to do. But if you want to get noticed, you’ll need a strong, focused letter of introduction.

From a hiring manager’s point of view, hiring someone is similar to searching for a romantic partner: Sometimes it takes only five seconds to find “the one,” while other times it takes five seconds to realize the candidate doesn’t stand a chance. Since cover letters are the first part of the application that hiring managers see, you’ll need to get past this all-important first impression before you can make it into the next round. Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind as you draft your cover letter.

DO start off your letter with some signs that it’s personalized, and not part of a mass mailing.

In order to come across as a genuine applicant who has read the job description, follow these steps:
1) Start with a greeting that addresses the hiring manager by name. And spell their name correctly!
2) Include the job title, company name, and the place you found the posting in the first sentence (or the first few sentences) of your letter.
3) Prove that you’ve read the entire job ad and, in doing so, feel you’re a qualified match for the position.

DO use a tone and writing style that are likely to fit this company’s culture and business model.

If the post billed this workplace as a fun, relaxed start-up staffed with ambitious tech geeks, that’s one thing. If the post suggested a rigidly professional culture bound by hierarchy and tradition, that’s another. Get a sense of these things before your submit your letter.

DON’T waste your time by rewriting your letter from scratch with each new application.

While nobody likes to be on the receiving end of a mass mailing, it’s perfectly reasonable to create a template cover letter that you can adjust in a minimal way with each new application. Just make sure you proofread the entire letter before you send it out. Hiring managers will immediately trash your application if you namedrop the wrong company in the opening or closing sentences.

DON’T write a letter that’s trapped in another century.

If you open with the words “Dear Sir,” your chances may be over before your reader even reaches the body of the letter. Don’t alienate potential employers (both men and women) with simple, avoidable sexist mistakes. The same rule applies to overformal or apologetic language. Scrap phrases like: “If I might have the honor of…” and “forgive me for wasting your time as I’m sure you’re very busy.” Keep every word clear, brief, confident, and relevant to the job and your skills.

DO put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes.

Before you submit your cover letter, resume, or any other document, put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. And be honest. Would you hire this person? Would you trust her with the future of your company? Would you enjoy working with him every day? Would you respect her? Are you even interested in talking to this person more?

Craft the Perfect Cover Letter

When you’re applying for a job and the stakes are high, it’s always a good idea to get some experienced guidance. Visit MyPerfectCoverLetter and use our cover letter builder, a unique tool that helps you craft a job-winning letter of introduction. The tool shows you how to format every section of your letter, and it also gives you writing samples to make the writing process even easier. With MyPerfectCoverLetter’s help, you’ll have the resources you need to land the position you want.

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3 responses to “Cover Letter Do’s & Don’ts for Smart Job Seekers”

  1. […] the end of the day, your cover letter is a sales pitch in disguise. If all goes well and your letter hits the mark, employers should put it down with one thought in […]

  2. […] ineffective cover letter starts with a greeting that draws negative attention. The greeting of a cover letter really shouldn’t be noticeable. But hiring managers can’t help […]

  3. […] outside. Monitor your body language, the punctuation you use in your emails, and your resume and cover letter word choices. Pay attention to how close you’re standing to a network contact at a party. Keep the […]

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