17 November 2016
When submitting an application, many professionals feel like they don’t need to put much effort into their cover letter. However, it isn’t necessarily true that hiring managers don’t read cover letters. As a result, a generic cover letter or an oversimplified one may get your application rejected. While it may seem daunting to re-write your cover letter or tailor it for each position, there are a few simple steps you can take to improve the quality in a few short minutes. Avoid repeating your resume Keep in mind that your cover letter should be a supplement to your resume rather than a repetition of it. Instead of rehashing your education and some bullet points on your experience, expand on some key items where you feel more context might show that you fulfill a need for this employer. By referring to the job description and company website, you’re bound to find something to elaborate on. By doing so, you can provide the most information possible to let the hiring manager make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed with your candidacy. Eliminate filler words Hiring managers have a limited amount of time when reviewing applications, so do your best to avoid rambling sentences or unnecessary filler words. When you get straight to the point, the reader can more quickly assess your skills instead of spending more time trying to figure out what your point is. Some of the words you should look to eliminate include: That Just Even Very Really These filler words add little to the content or understanding of your cover letter, and sacrificing them for the sake of brevity will only improve the readability of your cover letter. Enhance your vocabulary Your cover letter is your chance to prove that your communication skills are up to par, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. While it’s easy to fill your cover letter with more simpleminded phrases, this is a good time to utilize the English language in a more powerful way. By referencing a thesaurus, you can improve your word choice and subsequently improve the impression you leave the hiring manager. For example, the phrase “very excited” can be changed to “delighted” or “thrilled”—much more descriptive words to convey the same feeling. Limit your use of ‘I’ While you should boast your accomplishments and skill set throughout your cover letter, be sure that you aren’t repetitive in your sentence structure. A common mistake seen among cover letters is that an applicant will start most—or all—of the sentences with “I.” Not only is this a poor way to structure your letter, but it also could signify that you care more about talking about yourself than talking about how you can be an asset to the organization. As a solution, you can start by interchanging this with “me” or “myself,” and you can also speak more about the company as well. Tell a story Not only should your cover letter hit all the right points, but it should be conversational and show your personality. As a result, telling a short story about your accomplishments can assist in helping your letter stand out. When considering a story to share, refer to the job requirements and how a past experience of yours shows that you have the skills necessary to solve an existing issue for this employer. By doing this, you’re presenting yourself as a solution to the employer’s problem while also showing off your personality—or your cultural fit.