Posted: Mar 5 2014
Check these three things before you apply for your next job with a cover letter
Next time you’re applying online to a job, do yourself a huge favor and check these three things before you hit that “Submit” button:
1. What’s in it for the company?
This is a common problem I see – your cover letter isn’t supposed to be “me, me, me.” It’s supposed to be “this is what I can bring to the table for your company.” You know – ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. That whole thing.
Depending on what you can bring to the table is what may make you hire-able over someone else. What’s your unique value proposition? Why should I hire you over the next person? What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
And honestly, if I get a cover letter that’s clearly a template-d message that has experiences irrelevant to the job (meaning you didn’t bother customizing it) and the whole thing just goes on and on about yourself and how great you are and why you’re awesome, I’m not really interested in someone with such an ego. You probably won’t fit in so great with a team, based on that sort of messaging.
You want to brag a little bit, but just remember that at the core of this, it’s not about you. It’s about what’s best for the company and finding the best fit.
2. If I was hiring, would I hire me?
Gut check moment: if you were on the other side of the table, would you consider hiring yourself? Is your cover letter persuasive? Does it get to the point? Would it stand out in a stack of other applications?
It’s been said that recruiters look at resumes for an average of six seconds. From someone who has hired for several companies and several positions – trust me, when the job search is on, time gets extremely limited. People start to blur together, other things still have to be done for the company, and time can get crunched in the process.
If you had six seconds, what would you notice from your resume? Even better: get a friend to review it for you. Friends are much better at being detached and giving you honest, objective feedback.
3. Are the names spelled correctly?
Can’t emphasize this one enough – is the name of the person you’re sending this to spelled correctly? Is the name of the company spelled correctly? Is the job position you’re applying for the correct one? Triple check every thing.
You may be sending cover letters and job applications out en masse, but to someone on the receiving end, getting a letter about how you want to be with a company and spelling it incorrectly is a massive turn-off. Think about it. It shows you are either a) sloppy or b) don’t genuinely care about the company you’re trying to woo.
Bonus round: one thing I love to see is follow-up. In a respectful manner. People who are overseeing hiring processes are really busy and when people acknowledge that, it’s greatly appreciated. One of my favorite tricks I’ve seen that can set applicants apart is ending a cover letter or message with something along the lines of: “I know you’re busy and I appreciate this opportunity, so I will make sure to follow up in two weeks to check back in. Thanks again for your time!”
Note: if you do this, you better follow up. Not following up makes you look really bad. If you set yourself up to be proactive this way, you better freaking follow through. But if you successfully follow up and stay on the top of the recruiter’s mind, therefore setting yourself apart and making more of a connection – that might just help score you a new opportunity now, or down the road.
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