You’ve been tirelessly polishing your resume, especially after finding a job posting that precisely matches your skills. But did your cover letter deserve the same attention?
Many hiring managers use your cover letter to gauge your interest in the company, as well as your suitability for the position. Therefore, when you say “Dear Sir, I am interested in your vacancy, here is my CV”, you are missing a crucial opportunity to persuade employers to take you seriously.
Here are five of the most crucial mistakes made in cover letters, ones that can quickly eliminate you from the running for a management position:
1. The opening line of your cover letter is boring
“I am an operations manager with 18 years of experience” or “In response to your CEO offer, I have attached my resume” are really not compelling enough to use as opening statements. Instead, try a hook that allows the hiring manager to sit up straight in their chair, like in these examples:
“Would a VP of Sales who consistently pushes teams beyond their quota (up to 52%) make a difference in your national ranking?
“As CIO for global company ABC Consulting, I increased our client satisfaction to 97% across 3 outsourcing engagements, pushing our revenue growth to its peak despite the recession. create the same results for you.”
The idea is to speak specifically to the employer’s issues while describing the performance impact you’ve had in your previous roles. Note that each of these sentences contains metrics, a focused job title, and a career-defining accomplishment that are framed in context and presented quickly for the reader to absorb.
At Work It DAILY, we advise members to follow our disruptive cover letter format and use storytelling to hook the hiring manager. The key is to show a connection between you and the company. Your opening line should also leverage the research you’ve done about the company, as per the next point.
2. Your cover letter doesn’t tell employers how you will solve their problems
Making a list of skills isn’t strong enough to set you apart from other candidates, but speaking directly to the company’s needs will do the trick.
You need to dig into the company’s history, press releases, annual reports, social media accounts, and other news to understand their problems. What type of expansion is planned? Have profits declined in previous quarters? What do industry analysts say about the company’s future and business strategy?
Armed with this information, you are able to connect your leadership skills to the employer’s needs much more succinctly:
“My ability to deliver business development results (30% increase in sales of cloud-based solutions in Q4 2022) can solve the challenges you faced entering this market. Can we talk ? »
3. Key points in your cover letter don’t match (or exceed) the job requirements
Just like CVs, cover letters must be precise and orient the reader. This should keep them attentive to why they should hire you and how your work can benefit them.
As you write, place the job description in front of you to remind yourself what the employer is looking for. Then, look for ways to indicate how you can exceed those expectations. The following paragraph is taken from an IT director’s cover letter:
“Your ad indicates that you need a leader in service delivery and customer satisfaction. My career includes 3 years of 97% satisfaction ratings, achieved by improving network infrastructure and capacity, and I considers responsive service my #1 priority.”
4. Your cover letter is not addressed to a real person
Finding a company contact name has never been easier. First, you can use LinkedIn to research the employer. Next, go to the “People” tab on the company page and search for the name of the hiring manager or department manager. For example, a business development manager might search for keywords like “VP Sales” or “COO” to identify the next-level manager’s contact, while an IT product manager might try to find the CIO’s name .
If you can’t find a name through LinkedIn, be sure to check Zoominfo.com or the company’s About Us page. If you have access to Dun & Bradstreet, you can also use this resource to locate company insiders. Furthermore, Data axis is a free database of contact names available at many public libraries and only requires your library card to access it.
Taking the time to come up with a name (instead of resorting to “Dear Hiring Manager”) will help your letter create more impact with a target employer.
5. You are not assertive in your cover letter
This is especially important if you are in a management or leadership position. Employers like to see a take-charge style (the same one you’ll use when dealing with vendors or your new team).
If your closing line isn’t strong, you run the risk of appearing too passive. “Thanks in advance for reviewing my credentials” is certainly a polite and professional statement. However, “I plan to exceed your requirements as your next VP of Finance” and “I am confident I can demonstrate the leadership you are looking for in your next CIO” are both stronger.
Even more intense, “I’ll follow up with you next Tuesday” shows a definite intention on your part to influence the hiring public and informs them in advance of the proactive steps you will take to get the interview.
To summarize, there is no reason to settle for a bland, universal cover letter that blends in with others. Your job search will be most effective when you focus on the hiring audience with an unforgettable openness, especially when it draws parallels between the employer’s needs and your unique value.
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This article was originally published on an earlier date.
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