Create a Killer Resume and Cover Letter

12 Essential Cover Letter Rules for Job Seekers

to whom it may concern cover letter

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Writing a cover letter can be incredibly frustrating. Not only is it a vital document in your job search, but it may even hold more importance than your resume. Yet, the salutation “To whom it may concern” feels incredibly generic and impersonal.

Who wants to receive a letter addressed to no one? If you’re using this outdated salutation, rest assured it will catch nobody’s attention and find its way to the trash bin. Let me share some valuable cover letter tips that will increase your chances of getting noticed.

Do I have to?

Yes, you have to write a cover letter. This is your cover letter and your first impression. It can be the single reason why your resume is or is not considered. Even if you have the best resume in the world with the most amazing work experience, a missing or poorly written cover letter may ruin any chance of getting your resume seen by the right people.

Hiring managers can be very selective about the few people they will hire. With sometimes hundreds of resumes to sort through, a cover letter may be all they have time to review in considering whether or not to read your resume.

To whom it may concern - quite possibly one of the most cookie-cutter, impersonal salutations ever created. Who wants to get a letter literally addressed to no one?Click To Tweet

1. Do Your Homework

Research is the key, and with a bit of persistence, you should be able to locate the name of the contact that you are to send your cover letter to if you do not have it already.

Anyone can send a cover letter without an addressee. It takes someone who is willing to put in a little time to find out the hiring manager’s name. What will this do for you? Well for one, you can address the cover letter to the hiring manager this will get a few points for you.

You can look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn and get some key information that will help you cover some of the topics that you now know the manager has experienced. Whatever you do, do not use to whom it may concern as it looks like you didn’t take the time to do the research. So what salutation should you use?

2. To Whom it May Concern is the Worst

These days there is really no excuse to not find out the name of who you want to send your resume.  But it still may be confusing how to start your cover letter. Do you include the first name? Is Hello to casual? And what if you can’t find the hiring manager’s name? Here are a few alternatives for “to whom it may concern”.

  • Dear {First Name Last Name}
  • Dear Mr./Ms. {Last Name}
  • Hello, {First Name}
  • Dear {Company Name}
  • Dear {Hiring Manager}
  • Dear {First Name}
  • Dear {Job Title}
  • Dear {Name of department}
  • 3. Perfection is Required

Make sure you have the correct name (and spelling!) of the person that you will be addressing the cover letter to. review your cover letter and make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors.  If your cover letter contains errors, the hiring manager is not likely to take a look at your resume.  Have a friend or relative review your letter.

3. Read and Understand the Job Requirements

Read the job requirements and ensure you feel there is a good fit with your experience. Highlight major responsibilities and indicate why you are a great match. The hiring manager will know you took the time to read the job description and compare it to your experience and abilities.

4. Leverage Your Network

When you are looking for work, it is no time to be shy. If you know someone at a company where you are sending a cover letter or have a contact in your network that can help you get your foot in the door, now is the time to use it. So many jobs are filled based on who you know, leverage your network and get an advantage. Take a look at Your Job Search Marketing Toolkit – Networking.

5. Tell them why you are the right person for the job

If you don’t toot your own horn, who will? If you find a job opportunity that is a good fit, make sure your cover letter includes all of the reasons why you are the right person for the job. Maybe you have similar experience or have skills and education that are a perfect match. Whatever the reason, make the point in your cover letter. How to Tailor a Customized Cover Letter for Each Position.

Briefly describe why they should consider you for an interview.  Include comments about your strengths that are specific to the opportunity. Remember – you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

6. Short Is Good

Keep your cover letter short and to the point. Your cover letter is meant to provide a great introduction to you and your skills, not your life story. Let your paragraphs be short but powerful (take a look at Your Job Search Marketing Toolkit – Cover Letters).  Don’t go over one page. Even if you have had a lengthy career. Your goal is to encourage the hiring manager to invite you for a personal interview, not eliminate the necessity for one.

7. Include Next Steps

Ask for an interview. Let the hiring manager know that you will be calling to follow up on your letter. Make a note in your calendar and be sure to follow up. To end your letter on a positive note, be sure to thank the reader for his or her consideration.

“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” John D. Rockefeller

8. Let Your Resume Do the Rest.

Your cover letter is not your resume, so don’t add too much detail. Let your resume.

Tell them what you’ve accomplished in your career. This is different from telling them why you are the right person (although there should be some overlap). This is about your important accomplishments across your career.

Best to pick the ones that specifically match the job, but no need to include thousands of accomplishments. By highlighting accomplishments that illustrate broad and matching experience, you stand a better chance of getting the hiring manager’s attention. Take a look at Understanding the Importance of Keywords in Your Job Search.

9. Don’t Send Form Letters

Your cover letter should be personalized with the job opportunity and the hiring manager.  If you send generic cover letters, it will look like you are doing a mass mailing and have not taken the time to specifically review the opportunity. Yes, this can be time-consuming, but the extra effort will result in more interviews.

10. Don’t Apologize – Show Confidence

It is rare to have a perfect match for every skill or requirement listed in a job opportunity (although it does happen). And while you will focus on your skills and strengths (as mentioned above), you should not list or indicate where you are not a good fit. Don’t use phrases such as “while I’m not a perfect fit” or “while I don’t have all the skills required”. Remain confident in your cover letter as to why you are the right person for the job.

11. Personalize it

If you are mailing the letter, put pen to paper and sign it. If you are emailing the cover letter, make sure you put your name at the bottom of your email (or cover letter if you added it as an attachment). Signing your cover letter shows that you took the time to personally address the letter. 

12. Choose a cover letter that suits you and the job

Yes, there are different resume styles and you need to pick one (or more) that fits your career, the company you are applying to, and the type of position. Everything is important, the font, format, and content should be specific to the position. While this may seem extremely hard at first, it is easily overcome by looking at some cover letter samples.

Your cover letter is typically the first thing a Recruiter or company HR representative sees. If it is poorly written, it is unlikely that the hiring manager will even look at your resume (so it is important to get this right). Cover letters generally date back to the days of “snail mail” but cover letters have made the transition to the Internet as the content of your email sent when forwarding your resume (or possibly an additional document uploaded to a company career site). Before beginning to write your cover letters, you should take a look at some cover letter examples.

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05/22/2024 04:57 pm GMT

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