Yes, everyone’s favorite topic – cover letter writing. Most cringe at the thought of sitting down to compose a professional, presentable cover letter. Why is that?
For starters, it’s a lot of work and if you’re not careful, it could turn out to be generic and sound arrogant. In my technical writing class I learned some valuable information on what you should avoid when writing a cover letter.
The first thing you want to do is always write out the date in full. This looks more professional and is more formal than 1/27/15. When you think about it, it doesn’t really take any extra time to do considering Word auto types it after the first few letters.
Next, you want to make sure you have the complete business address. This includes the full name of the person who will be reviewing your resume and cover letter. Never, I repeat, never send a cover letter out “To Whom It May Concern:”. If it is not mentioned in the job listing, search the web, make some phone calls – be sure to not only find their name, but also get the correct spelling. This shows you’ve done your research.
At this point in the cover letter you will want to start your first sentence off with the position you’re applying for and where you found the position listed. Make sure you have the exact position listed so whoever is reading your cover letter knows why they are reading it.
It is important to remember that your cover letter isn’t about you – it’s about how well you match what the company needs. It’s best to avoid using phrases like “I think”, “I believe”, or “I know”. This can come off sounding arrogant and narcissistic. A good thing to do is to research the company. Find out where they’ve been in the past and look to see what their plan is for the future. Use this information to your advantage in your cover letter by telling the company why you want to work there.
Remember to be humble. Find a unique way to tell the company that you hope to be considered for employment.
Whether you’re fresh out of college or an experienced professional, it is important that you take skills that you have and connect them with jobs you have already had. Keep in mind that verbs are about your skills and adjectives and adverbs are about your work ethic. Use this opportunity to create a 3D picture of yourself for your potential employer to see.
Finally, let them know how to contact you. If you have a voicemail setup, make sure it sounds professional. Nothing sounds worse to a potential employer than, “Hey man, it’s so and so. Leave me your digits yo!”. Something more appropriate would be, “You have reached so and so. I am unable to take your call at this time. Leave your name, number, and reason for your call, and I will return your call.” If you have an email address that you’ve been using from high school, make sure you create a new, professional email address in which you can include as well.
This post is derived from notes and class discussion I had Monday afternoon in my technical writing class with Dr. Micheal Martin. Before this class, I can tell you all – I have been writing cover letters the wrong way! I hope this can be a help to some of you out there because I know for me, receiving this information was like finding a goldmine.