Not customizing your cover letter for each position you apply for is a common misstep among job seekers. If you are applying to numerous positions you might feel that the easiest and most efficient thing to do is have a general cover letter that you can print a lot of copies of and send out in a mass mailing. Doing this however can jeopardize your chances of standing out among the other candidates because it will give your cover letter a generic feel. So how can you customize your cover letter? Reference the company name, the hiring manager’s name, and the position title; present specific qualifications that align with the job description; identify a need the company has and offer up a solution.
Sending a cover letter filled with the things that you want from the position is a huge no-no. This means no statements such as: I am looking for a position which will allow me to ___________. You will find the most success with your cover letter if you tell the employer what it is you can do for them. Highlight your value and how you will apply it for their benefit. Definitely do not include requests for salary or benefits. Do you really think it is going to go over well if in your cover letter you request a specific salary or four weeks of paid vacation?
Avoid redundancy in your cover letter by not repeating the information that will be found on your resume. You want your cover letter to pull the reader in and make them want to continue on to the resume. If your resume doesn’t offer any new information or elaborate on your value your reader will be left with an incomplete picture of what you would bring to the picture. Your cover letter is also the place to address relocation, career transitions, or extended gaps in your career history.
Stay away from overused and outdated opener like: Please consider me for the position of, or I am writing in response to your advertisement for. You might be surprised at the number of job seekers that continue to use mundane openers such as these. Therefore, putting a little effort into creating an opener that is distinctive and uncommon can go a long way in setting you apart from the crowd.
Perhaps the worst cover letter sin would be sending no cover letter at all. Don’t consider a cover letter optional. Failing to send a cover letter can have a negative impact on your job search efforts; first, you are missing out on a prime opportunity to introduce yourself, your strengths, and your unique value, and second you risk appearing sloppy and incomplete without a cover letter. A cover letter that works with your resume can provide a complete picture of what you can offer a prospective employer.
by Megan Koehler