Cover Letter Rookies: The Basics

Even for those who have held several jobs, a cover letter is still a hard application material to write. It takes a bit more time and thought than simply submitting a resume. It’s essential to invest the energy needed to craft a good cover letter, however, as a poorly-written cover letter can quickly place an otherwise highly qualified application into the trash. Here are some seemingly intuitive tips that you’ll want to pay especially close attention to:

  • Avoid repetition. Just like your video resume, you do not want to simply repeat what your resume says. If you’re submitting a cover letter, then that means that you’ve probably already submitted (or are about to submit) a resume. This is your space to introduce yourself to a potential employer and captivate their attention. Your task is to “sell,” discuss, and analyze your resume. Again, go beyond simply repeating it.
  • Keep it short and to the point. It’s hard enough to get employers to spend even a few short seconds looking at your resume. If they don’t have time to do that, do you think they’ll have time to read your long-winded and repetitious cover letter? I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you must keep in mind that your reader doesn’t have a lot of time to give you. I’ve always been told that a page is a good length for a cover letter, but I generally aim for around half a page, with a maximum of three paragraphs.
  • Why you want the position and why you should get it. This is all that your cover letter is meant to convey. If you have any information in one of your cover letters that addresses something besides one of these two points, consider taking it out.
  • Nix the generic cover letter. It’s unimpressive and tacky. You need to demonstrate to the employer that you want not any job but that you want this job. To do so, you’ll need to have some background knowledge about the company, including its goals, values, and mission. After all, how could you convince someone you want to work for their company if you don’t even know what their company does?!

In a way, your cover letter is very similar to your video resume. It’s your opportunity to briefly introduce yourself to the employer and briefly discuss why an employer should bring you in for an interview. The above tips are quite simple to follow once you’re aware of them. But don’t mistake their simplicity for unimportance. Following them will take you many steps forward towards that interview and, eventually, ideal position!

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