Juliet Fornari is setting a new standard in coaching and takes her clients from the starting gate to interview success. Her commitments to resume writing and as a career consultant is changing the way job seekers get the attention of recruiters. As the founder of Rosie Resumes, Juliet specialises in working with management and executive candidates everywhere in the world. In this exclusive feature for Manning Global, Juliet reveals the three most common pitfalls of the cover letter, and how to fix them so you don’t lose out!
Let’s take a look at the big elephant in the room. Yes, that one. Your cover letter. The fact is – they are hard to do for most people. Nobody likes writing a resume, but strangely, resumes seem easier to write than the dreaded cover letter.
- How long is too long?
- What should you talk about?
- Who should this be addressed to?
- How relevant does it have to be and finally, how can you use a cover letter to your advantage?
Not knowing what to say is a struggle – I will admit. So many people simply screw up their chances of getting an interview with a poorly written, designed and focused cover letter. But what is it that totally impacts their chance? The biggest thing I have seen is that people simply don’t think of the space on a cover letter as prime real estate. Yes, real estate. Go with me on this. Where you put the most integral parts of the information about you on the cover letter is crucial. It really is: Location. Location. Location. Don’t fail to use the prime real estate of your cover letter to your advantage.
1. Completely repeat your CV
In really simple terms, your resume will speak for itself, on its own. It will highlight all the amazing stuff you have done in your career, who you are as a professional in your industry and what you have accomplished, and furthermore, what you can do for a company. Your cover letter should not be a copy / paste of your resume; should not go over the same facts, but it should tie together your experience in conjunction with what the employer is seeking. Edit your resume to show the recruiters how your background works with what they are seeing in a candidate. Perhaps point out examples of challenges you have overcome to push the company forward, increase sales or promote brand identity for example. This will help show you are the perfect candidate that understands company focus and how to turn a situation around.
2. Don’t harp on about what you want out of the new job
I see this a lot and it bugs me. Cover letters should not detail why you want this job. They should also not discuss why you hated your last jobs. What employers want to see in a cover letter is how you are going to help them: how can you help an employer grow their bottom line and thrive in their industry? Yes, of course it is important you have career goals – but this is not really the place to include them. This cover letter should sell you:
- Why are you so amazing?
- Why are you the best candidate?
- Why should they interview and hire you?
The fact is, companies are not in business to give you a job. Yes, you become a valuable asset, but, your personal career development is not specifically in the employer’s interest upon hiring you. They are also not there to make sure you are happy. How can you fix your resume to make sure it is all about the company and employer?
- Don’t spell out your needs
- Show them what you can deliver for them!
3. Generic cover letters = death
So many of my clients ask if they can have the same generic cover letter and apply to a lot of different positions. The answer is yes, you can, but I don’t recommend it. Just as your resume should be tailored to show off how amazing you are, your cover letter should do the same. Overall, cover letters should not be overly specific or generic. Sounds confusing, right? Think of it this way – quality will catch attention. Not generic words. The way to do this: make sure you customise every cover letter you send out to fit the job. Even if it is just a sentence or two. You can keep the overall idea there – but change it to fit each job in particular. And certainly, if you are applying for many within the same company – you need to make sure your cover letter is totally different. Those ATS scanners can detect the same wording – and with algorithms, might red flag you as just randomly applying even if you sincerely are interested.
Click here to contact Juliet for a free evaluation of your resume.
Need more motivation? We’ve got you covered! Click here for more top tips – and a free template – for creating the perfect cover letter…