By Snezana Stojilkovic; Chicago, Illinois
Writing a good cover letter might be a scare thought for the majority of you. You have so many unanswered questions: How long it should be, what information should be included, do you have to repeat the contact information (since you already have it on your resume), who you are supposed to address in it, how deep personally you need to go, and so on. Although there is no magic formula, and you can get creative, there are some things that you should keep in your mind when deciding how to approach this task. It can be enjoyable!
Each cover letter is unique
That’s why you should stick with the golden rule: Don’t send the same letter to different locations, those experienced eyes would notice that you were flirting with other companies, and your letter might end up in a trash bin.
Do your homework, when you see a job opening, the first thing you need to do is to Google it. Find out as much as possible. How big is the company (size matters), who is responsible for hiring (again, in small companies it’s more likely that the owner will get to read your letter, in bigger there is a professional help from HR – human resource – Department), how much they pay for different positions comparing with other companies from the same industry, any benefits that go with the job, any problems that employees have, what is overall company’s culture; anything can help!
When I said that size matters I meant that with bigger companies it’s likely that you might have to go through a phone call screening process, and if you do a good job you can actually have a real interview. And, probably, that will be just the first round. So, you should know that before you sit in front of your computer.
I mentioned in one of the previous articles that a good start point can be the website www.glassdoor.com, where you can find valuable information, not only for the job and company, but also for interviews, and what you can expect from one if you ever get there.
Red flag, sometimes employees are “forced” to write positive comments, so be aware
Look for another source if everything seems so perfect! I found numerous of places that advertised high weekly income, up to $1500, and it turned out that these are door-to-door jobs, where you knock on thousands of doors to try to sell some product, and it is usually commission only, which means that you are paid based on your performance. If you don’t sell anything that day, after 10 hours of knocking and talking and walking you go home with exactly $0.
Another place where you can search is LinkedIn, and although I am not the biggest fan of it – Yelp. Sometimes, reading reviews from customers/clients you get a pretty good idea how someone runs the business. You can easily decide if you want to be a part of it, or not.
For example, you want to work as a nail technician. But the reviews you found online about that saloon’s practice is disturbing, they don’t respect schedule because they accept walk-ins, and that creates chaos, it is not clean enough, the selection of nail polish colors is limited, the material they use is cheap and not of good quality. Would you spend any time writing an amazing cover letter for that kind of place?
Your cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page long. And that’s my dear with all your information (first and last name, address, email and phone number), date and information about the company you are applying for, and closing paragraph. I suggest that you leave the number from your address, both building and apartment for security purpose.
I understand that many of you really like to write and you have so much to tell, (just like me, and I hope you are still reading) but hey, think about timing, people are busy.
They don’t want to read a book. It’s a Twitter era
The first paragraph is pretty standard: You will have to introduce yourself, explain what position you are applying for, how you heard for it, and how your qualification applies for the job. That’s catchy part. If it’s well written, the person who reads it will read it all.
The second and third paragraph is the place to brag about your experience and achievements. I already wrote about this, tell your story! Don’t use clichéd sentences, rather explain what exactly you know to do in details.
The language is very important here. I don’t like rigid language, but it is necessary to use it when applying for the position like administration, banks, and schools. But I do believe that you can be creative if that is essential for a job. Think of designers, marketing positions, fashion, etc.
In the closing paragraph, you should thank the person that you are addressing for the time and consideration of you as a candidate. Invite him/her to contact you to set up an interview. This is a very short paragraph. The last part is your signature.
So, let’s sum up:
Don’t write too much: be concise!
Be detailed when asking a question: What are you good at?
Don’t mention salary, unless asked for salary requirements or salary history
Proofread your letter. Twice. Some people are extremely sensitive when it comes to the grammar.
At the very end, there is one more option available for you to explore. If you are really terrified of doing everything I wrote about, you can pay for professional help and hire someone who will do that for you. The person who is responsible for writing your resume and cover letter would call you, and try to find as much as possible about your background, your employment history, education, references, past projects you have done, etc. The more you tell – the better outcome will be!
I don’t really support this kind of writing since I believe that anyone is capable of writing a decent resume and cover letter. You know yourself best, that’s your advantage. Use it.
The last piece of advice is: If you ever decide to use “free cover letter making” there is a chance that after you are done with writing you will have to pay a small price for it if you want to save it. Once you do it, be aware that if you don’t cancel, the company will keep charging you a monthly fee, which is usually around $15! Be aware.
And good luck with job hunting!