Recruiters and hiring managers often rely on cover letters to sort through candidates. That’s because so many résumés look the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re going after an internship or looking for an entry-level job. Your cover letter is a key part of your application. How can you avoid common mistakes to make sure your cover letter is doing everything it can for you?
#1: Use Clear Language
Many job seekers flip into formal mode when they write cover letters. But no hiring manager wants to read about a candidate who seems overly stiff. Instead, shoot for a tone that’s friendly and clear. If you find yourself using too many complex words, try to think of a simpler way to say the same thing. If you can’t tell whether your language is appropriate, try reading your letter out loud and see how it sounds. Then edit accordingly.
#2: Keep It Short and Direct
Most employers look for cover letters that are about half a page long, or 250 words. Stick to the position you’re seeking, why you’re qualified, and how you’ll do the job. Add a few touches of your personality to make it distinct. That’s it. Anything else is just unnecessary padding.
#3: Know the Details
Too many candidates apply to a company without knowing the first thing about it. The best way to show your enthusiasm for the job is to tailor your cover letter to the company and department you’re hoping to join. Do your research ahead of time. Then work specific, relevant information into your cover letter. It will prove you’re already familiar with the company and what it does.
#4: Believe in Yourself
When you aren’t feeling confident, it’s easy for that emotion to creep into your language. The result is that you undersell yourself. That makes you seem less appealing than other candidates. Look for places in your letter where it sounds like you’re second-guessing your abilities. Rewrite them to be stronger, even if it feels a little uncomfortable. Focus on your strengths in the context of the position you’re seeking.
#5: Include the Company
It might feel like your cover letter is all about you. Really, though, it’s all about what you can do for the company. Be careful not to go on about how great the job would be for your career. Instead, focus on how the company will benefit from hiring you. Consider your education, experiences, and skills. Then include just the ones that showcase your potential as it relates to the specific position you’re applying for.
By following these five tips, you’ll set yourself apart from the other applicants who are seeking the same positions you are. It really is possible for such a short piece of correspondence to make all the difference in your career.