Make Your Cover Letter Shine by Answering “Yes” to These 6 Questions

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You’re about to send your perfect cover letter to get your dream job, but is it truly ready to go out, and will it impress the hiring manager? The cover letter often determines whether someone reaches the next stage—the coveted interview. Take the time to make sure your cover letter is top-notch. Since hiring managers typically don’t read the cover letter until they’ve looked over the resume and determined the candidate to be appropriately qualified, you’ll have to make sure your resume is also in tip-top shape.

Should you tweak your cover letter before you hit the send button? Simply ask yourself the questions below to find ways to improve it further. If you can answer “yes” to all six questions, you are probably in good shape. Don’t underestimate what a professional editor can do for you as well. Reach out to our experts if you need help in that area.

Does it matter?

Look through your cover letter and ask yourself if every word matters. If something doesn’t matter or doesn’t make sense, delete it. You want to make your cover letter as succinct as you can. Of course, don’t take this advice too literally. In some cases, you may need to entirely restructure sentences to remove unnecessary information.

You should never write more than one page—the shorter, the better. Hiring managers usually have piles of cover letters and resumes to read, and letters whose length exceeds a page may be tossed aside simply because the recruiter is short on time. Respect their limited time by making sure every word counts.

Did I personalize it?

Don’t be generic! You want to assure the hiring manager that you wrote the cover letter specifically for their company and that job. The simplest way to convey this is to use names. Do all you can to find out the name of the hiring manager so you can refer to them directly.

How do you do this? Check the company website. If that doesn’t work, look at its LinkedIn profiles. Still at a loss? Call the human resources department and let them know you’re applying for a job and want to find out who you should address the letter to. This is a simple thing to do, but it demonstrates that you care enough to take the extra time to find a name. Maybe the secretary will even jot down a note to pass along to the hiring manager; thus, you’ve started making a positive impression before even applying.

In case you still can’t find a name after digging around, it’s fine to use “Dear Hiring Manager.” If you couldn’t come up with a name after an extensive search, chances are that other applicants won’t be using a specific name either. Avoid using “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” as they are too formal and outdated. 

Names aren’t the only way to personalize a cover letter. You can find an abundance of templates online where you simply insert the name of the company and the hiring manager, but this isn’t going to impress anyone. Be sure to note that you have the specific skills the company is looking for and specify how you can help it achieve its goals and how your values align.

Did I focus on the company?

When constructing your cover letter, take care to make it about the company, not you. Don’t gush about how much you want the job and what it will do for you. Tell the hiring manager how you will benefit the company. You can still mention your passion but frame it in a way that relates to benefiting the company.

The best way to do this is to research the job and the company. What does the position entail? Find this out and show how your strengths make you a fit for it.

Look into the company. Google it and check what it has accomplished and what it’s currently working on. If you can, research what its plans include. The best ways to do this are to look at the corporate website, peruse employees’ LinkedIn profiles, and google articles about the company. It will surely impress the hiring manager if you can carry on a conversation about their organization’s current activities and future direction. Where others have simply written “driven” on their resumes, you’re showing that you’re driven.

It also helps if you can learn about the culture and the values of the company. It lets the recruiter know that you cared enough to dig up extra information and shows them that you can easily fit in. If you’re passionate about the company’s mission, definitely mention it—just be genuine.

In addition, tell the hiring manager about any connections you have with company employees. Did someone suggest you apply for the position? If so, let it be known. This acts as an endorsement for you, especially if the person is higher up in the hierarchy.

Does this add to the information on my resume?

Don’t just relay all the past jobs and experience listed on your resume. That’s what your resume is for. Go above and beyond. You want to add to what you’ve already included in your resume, providing extra details about why the hiring manager should choose you. Give examples of what you’ve done and achieved that relate to the new position. Show how you can add value to the job and the company. Have you received any awards or glowing performance reviews that are pertinent to the position? If so, use that information to your advantage.

Basically, you want to promote yourself. Let your passion and excitement shine through without going overboard (otherwise, you may appear disingenuous). Show the manager what you have done instead of telling them. If you have any statistical information that proves how you helped your previous employer, this is the place to refer to it.

Did I follow directions?

Read over the job posting one more time. Did you include everything they asked for? If the ad says you should provide specific information, make sure you incorporated it. Leaving anything out screams that you don’t pay attention to details and can’t follow directions—not the best first impression! You probably won’t have a chance to make another impression after that.

If you don’t want your application to end up in the trash bin, list all the skills mentioned in the posting and include any attachments required. This ensures that the hiring manager sees you as someone who can follow instructions and is meticulous, which only adds to your professional worth.

Did I carefully edit it?

Look over your cover letter again. When you are through, have a colleague or a trusted friend review it, then send it to a professional editor. You may think you’ve caught every mistake, but sometimes writers are too close to their own work and overlook minor errors. Your brain automatically corrects such errors because you know what you wanted to say, so you always want a fresh pair of eyes to look over your work.

You need to make sure you have gotten rid of all spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. A hiring manager may look at those as indicative of a lack of professionalism. They may feel that you are lazy or not serious enough about the job because you didn’t take the time to proofread your cover letter.

When you’re applying to more than one company, one of the biggest mistakes (and a surefire way to lose the job) is not making certain you use a company’s job title and name throughout the letter. You don’t want to address it to Moosehead Lodge and then refer to Katahdin Cabins in your closing paragraph.

If your answer to each question above is a resounding “yes,” then you are ready to turn in your cover letter and resume. The time and effort you spend on making your cover letter perfect can pay off big time, securing you an invitation for an interview and possibly a new job. Don’t forget the value an experienced professional can add as well, so contact our experts for whatever assistance you need.

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