Face facts: Some people will never read your cover letter. The rest of the people may trash your resume if it does not include a cover letter. Others will value the cover letter over all other application materials. Since you can't know for sure which type of employer or recruiter will receive and review your materials, assume the cover letter is a crucial piece of your application package.
Don't make these 13 cover letter mistakes and you will be ahead of the game:
1. Forgetting to include a cover letter.
For reasons noted, the cover letter is important, especially if the job description requests it. When you leave it off, you may look lazy (at best) or appear to be someone who cannot follow instructions (at worst).
2. Addressing your cover letter generically.
"Dear Sir" is totally out of the question, since it is sexist and "To whom it may concern" makes it clear that you didn't think it was important enough to try to identify the person in charge of the search. It may be difficult to identify the correct person to address your letter, but you should try. Make a valiant effort to identify a name to include. Contact the company to ask for the correct name and use your Internet research skills to see if you can confirm a specific person to send your letter. As a very last resort, "Dear Hiring Manager" may not keep you totally out of the running, especially if the company has gone to great lengths to shield the exact name from the applicant pool.
3. Adding your cover letter as an attachment and writing a brief note in the body of the email.
If you apply via email, include your cover letter's contents as the body of the email you send. That way, it is very easy for the hiring manager to decide whether to open your attached resume or press delete.
More:Are These Resume Buzzwords Killing Your Chances?4. Sending a boring or terse cover letter.
If you're going to include a letter, it might as well be good enough to give you a better chance to land the job. If you send a formulaic sounding letter with nothing more interesting than the fact that you are applying for job No. 123 and that you saw the ad in XYZ.com, you won't pass the cover letter test for those sticklers who demand a cover letter. Make sure you write a letter that is interesting enough to read.
5. Missing an opportunity to make a great connection or to tell an interesting story.
Not everyone has a great story or reason for applying for a position, but if you do, use the cover letter to tell it. Was it the company where you launched your career, and you are ready to come back? Say so. Did you always admire the organization's television ads growing up, and now you are applying to help create new ones? That's a great story, and the cover letter is the place to share it.
6. Being self-centered.
The cover letter should not be a note detailing what you want. If you appear self-centered, that delete key is always handy.
7. Including errors or typos in your letter.
This is the kiss of death for many job application materials. Even if the job does not require you to wax eloquent regularly or to or create written materials for the company, if you misspell words or send a letter with typos and grammatical errors, it's a mark against you in a competitive field. Edit your own note carefully and ask a trusted friend to review it. Read it out loud to be sure you haven't left off words or made a typo that spell-check doesn't pick up -- for example, if you've said, "I'd be a terrific manger" instead of "manager."
More:3 Cover Letter Myths You Shouldn't Believe8. Not targeting your letter.
Just as you should target your resume for every job so you're most likely to pass the company's computerized resume screening system, you should also target your cover letter to each position and organization. Include specifics about the company and describe why you are a good fit for their job. Use the job description and information you can find out about the job and organization online to choose the best details to include. If you send the same cover letter to every company, you are missing an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
9. Writing a novel.
No one needs a three-page cover letter, no matter how interesting or perfect the candidate may be for the job. Just as you don't want to be too terse, don't think you need to tell your life story. Write the equivalent of about one typed page at most.
10. Using the cover letter to repeat everything in the resume.
While you should make sure to include everything important in your resume (in case this hiring manager does not read cover letters), don't just summarize your resume in your cover letter. Take the opportunity to make direct connections between the job description and your skills. Consider creating three headlines based on information in the job description the employer wants and listing under each topic why you are a good fit. The more you can make a direct correlation between their needs and what you offer, the better your letter will be.
More:Using The Right Keywords On Your Resume Will Be Very Important In 201311. Exaggerating.
Don't say, "I'm perfect for the job" if you know you are not. Be honest in your cover letter and identify the best matches between your skills and their needs.
12. Being too humble.
The opposite of the braggart, who is "ideal" for every job, the overly humble job seeker may actually apologize for applying and explain the skills he or she does not have for the job. Hopefully, it's obvious why the "why I'm not qualified" strategy is less than optimal! You may be applying for jobs that are a reach, and when you do, focus on what makes you a good fit and don't dwell on the negatives.
13. Going overboard with the sell.
Unless you are actually applying for a sales job, think twice before including language such as, "I'll call you on Friday to schedule an interview." This may be a turnoff for some hiring managers. Is it appropriate to indicate that you hope they agree you're a good match and that you will follow up as of a certain date, but you could lose the interviewer's attention if you act as if you are in charge of the process.
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Email Cover Letter Samples
When you're sending an email cover letter, it's important to follow the company's directions on how to submit your cover letter and resume, as well as to make sure that your email cover letters are written as well as any other professional correspondence you send.
Tips for Writing an Email Cover Letter
Write in paragraphs of about two to four sentences and use proper grammar and spelling, just as you would in any other letter.
Though this should be a given, avoid including emoticons or images of any sort.
Perhaps more important than formatting, though, is the content of your cover letter. You can review these email cover letter samples below, but be sure to personalize them when you apply for jobs.
You should tailor these samples not just to your own experience, but also to each job you’re applying for. Pay close attention to the detail of the job description - specifically, the responsibilities and requirements- and make sure your cover letter reflects how you are a good fit for these requirements.
Attaching the Letter to an Email
Take note of how the company requests you submit your cover letter; for example, you may be instructed to attach your cover letter along with your resume. In this case, make sure your cover letter is either in Word document form or is a PDF file.
Pasting the Letter into the Email
If you paste your cover letter into the body of your email, keep your text in the default font of your email provider.
Make sure the text is readable and formatted correctly. For example, avoid long paragraphs or, alternately, a bunch of stacked, short sentences.
Email Cover Letter Example
Subject Line of Email Message: Store Manager Position - Your Name
Dear Hiring Manager,
I read your job posting for the Store Manager position with interest, as the qualifications you are seeking match closely with my professional skills and experience.
I can offer XYZ Company:
- Over five years of retail management experience
- Ability to effectively hire, train, and manage staff
- Payroll management, scheduling, reports, and inventory control expertise
- Extensive work with visual standards and merchandising high-ticket items
In addition to my extensive retail experience, I have excellent communication skills. I always maintain a gracious and professional manner when communicating with people, including customers and store staff. My broad experience and range of skills make me a superior candidate for this position.
My resume, which is below, provides additional information on my background and qualifications. I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible to arrange a time for an interview.
Thank you for your consideration.
More Email Cover Letter Message Samples
Here is a list of more email cover letter samples you can use to get started. This list includes examples of cover letters that target specific types of jobs (full-time, part-time, summer, and volunteer) as well as email cover letters to use at different transitional stages in your career (promotions, job transfer requests).
Email Cover Letter Formatting Examples
For more information about how to format your cover letter, check out the following links:
Email Cover Letter Templates
How to Send an Email Cover Letter
When applying for employment via email, copy and paste your cover letter into the email message or write your cover letter in the body of an email message. Here's how to send an email cover letter.
More About Cover Letters:
Top 10 Cover Letter Writing Tips
What to Include in a Cover Letter