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Cover Letter Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

Photo cover letter dos and don'ts

A cover letter is a document that accompanies your resume when applying for a job. Its purpose is to introduce yourself to the hiring manager, highlight your qualifications and skills, and explain why you are the best fit for the position. While the resume provides a summary of your work experience and education, the cover letter allows you to showcase your personality and communication skills.

Following proper cover letter etiquette is essential because it demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail. It shows that you have taken the time to research the company and tailor your application specifically for the job. By adhering to cover letter etiquette, you can make a positive impression on the hiring manager and increase your chances of getting an interview.

The Importance of a Well-Written Cover Letter

A well-written cover letter can set you apart from other applicants in a competitive job market. It allows you to go beyond the bullet points on your resume and provide more context about your qualifications and experiences. A compelling cover letter can grab the attention of the hiring manager and make them want to learn more about you.

Additionally, a well-written cover letter can showcase your personality and communication skills. It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your writing abilities and how effectively you can convey your thoughts. Employers are not only looking for candidates with the right qualifications but also those who can effectively communicate and fit into their company culture.

Do: Customize Your Cover Letter for Each Job Application

One of the most important aspects of cover letter etiquette is customizing your cover letter for each job application. A generic cover letter that does not address the specific requirements of the job or company will not make a strong impression on the hiring manager.

To personalize your cover letter, start by thoroughly researching the company and job position. Look for information about their mission, values, and any recent news or projects they have been involved in. This will help you understand their needs and tailor your cover letter accordingly.

Next, carefully review the job description and identify the key skills and qualifications they are looking for. Highlight those skills and qualifications in your cover letter, providing specific examples of how you have demonstrated them in your previous roles. This will show the hiring manager that you have taken the time to understand their needs and are a good fit for the position.

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Don’t: Use a Generic Cover Letter for Multiple Applications

 

Metrics Data
Number of applications sent with generic cover letter 50
Number of job interviews received 2
Number of job offers received 0
Percentage of job applications rejected 90%
Number of personalized cover letters sent 10
Number of job interviews received after sending personalized cover letters 5
Number of job offers received after sending personalized cover letters 1
Percentage of job applications accepted after sending personalized cover letters 20%

Using a generic cover letter for multiple job applications is a common mistake that can hurt your chances of getting hired. Employers can easily spot a generic cover letter, and it gives the impression that you are not genuinely interested in the specific job or company.

A generic cover letter lacks the personalization and attention to detail that employers are looking for. It does not address the specific requirements of the job or demonstrate how your skills and experiences align with the company’s needs. It can come across as lazy or uninterested, which is not the impression you want to make on a potential employer.

Instead of using a generic cover letter, take the time to customize each one for the specific job application. This will show the hiring manager that you are genuinely interested in their company and have taken the time to understand their needs.

Do: Address the Hiring Manager by Name

Addressing the hiring manager by name in your cover letter can make a positive impression and show that you have done your research. It adds a personal touch to your application and demonstrates that you have taken the time to find out who will be reviewing your materials.

If the hiring manager’s name is listed in the job posting, use it in your salutation. For example, “Dear Mr. Smith” or “Dear Ms. Johnson.” If the name is not provided, try to find it by researching on LinkedIn or the company’s website. If all else fails, you can address it to “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Company Name] Recruiter.”

By addressing the hiring manager by name, you show that you have gone the extra mile to personalize your application and make a connection with the person who will be reviewing it.

Don’t: Use Generic Greetings like “To Whom It May Concern”

Cover Letter Etiquette: Dos and Don'ts

Using generic greetings like “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” can come across as impersonal and outdated. It shows that you have not taken the time to find out who will be reviewing your application and can give the impression that you are not genuinely interested in the job.

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If you are unable to find the hiring manager’s name, there are alternative greetings you can use. For example, you can address it to “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear [Company Name] Recruiter.” While it is not as personalized as addressing them by name, it is still more professional and shows that you have made an effort to tailor your application.

Do: Highlight Your Relevant Skills and Experience

One of the main purposes of a cover letter is to showcase your relevant skills and experience. It allows you to go into more detail about your qualifications and provide specific examples of how you have demonstrated them in your previous roles.

When writing your cover letter, carefully review the job description and identify the key skills and qualifications they are looking for. Then, highlight those skills and qualifications in your cover letter, providing specific examples of how you have used them in your previous roles.

For example, if the job requires strong communication skills, mention a project where you successfully communicated with a team to achieve a specific goal. If the job requires problem-solving skills, provide an example of a problem you encountered in a previous role and how you solved it.

By showcasing your relevant skills and experience, you demonstrate to the hiring manager that you have what it takes to excel in the position.

Don’t: Repeat Your Resume in Your Cover Letter

Repeating your resume in your cover letter can be redundant and a waste of valuable space. The cover letter should complement your resume, not duplicate it. It should provide additional information and context that is not included in your resume.

Instead of repeating your resume, use your cover letter to expand on your experiences and provide specific examples of how you have demonstrated the skills and qualifications required for the job. This will give the hiring manager a deeper understanding of your abilities and how they relate to the position.

For example, if your resume lists a previous job where you managed a team, use your cover letter to explain how you successfully led the team and achieved specific results. Provide specific examples of challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

Do: Proofread and Edit Your Cover Letter for Errors

Proofreading and editing your cover letter is crucial to ensure that it is error-free and professional. Typos and grammatical mistakes can make you appear careless and unprofessional, which can hurt your chances of getting hired.

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Before submitting your cover letter, take the time to carefully proofread it for errors. Read it aloud to catch any awkward phrasing or grammatical mistakes. Use spell-checking tools, but also manually review each word to ensure accuracy.

It can also be helpful to have someone else review your cover letter for errors. A fresh set of eyes may catch mistakes that you may have missed.

Don’t: Submit a Cover Letter with Typos or Grammatical Mistakes

Submitting a cover letter with typos or grammatical mistakes can significantly decrease your chances of getting hired. Employers are looking for candidates who pay attention to detail and have strong communication skills. Typos and grammatical mistakes can give the impression that you lack these qualities.

To avoid common mistakes and errors in your cover letter, take the time to proofread it carefully. Read it aloud, use spell-checking tools, and have someone else review it for errors. By submitting a clean and error-free cover letter, you demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail.
Following proper cover letter etiquette is essential when applying for a job. A well-written cover letter can set you apart from other applicants, showcase your personality and communication skills, and increase your chances of getting an interview. By customizing your cover letter for each job application, addressing the hiring manager by name, highlighting your relevant skills and experience, and proofreading it for errors, you can make a positive impression on the hiring manager and increase your chances of getting hired. Take the time to personalize and proofread your cover letters for each job application to maximize your chances of success.

If you’re looking for some valuable tips on crafting an impressive cover letter, you might also be interested in learning about the dos and don’ts of creating a visually appealing resume. In today’s competitive job market, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd, and one way to do that is through eye-catching design elements. Check out this article on “How to Shoot Photos That Demand Attention” for some expert advice on capturing attention-grabbing images for your resume. Remember, a well-designed resume can make a lasting impression on potential employers. So why not take your application to the next level?

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