Cover letters are an integral part of the job application. Cover letters can both be annoying and rewarding. As any job seeker knows, a cover letter is a must when applying to a job. Below, Matt shares a guest post about cover letters and how they are a vital part when applying for a job. Matt will share with you a few tips and tricks he’s learned to get his application noticed.
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an application’s basic necessity
guest blog presented by: Matthew D. Shalbrack
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As most know, I’ve been on the job hunt for five months now. I’ve put out hundreds of applications and cover letters to various abbreviated non-profits, sports teams, newspapers and electronic stores. Minus the food industry, you name it and there’s a great shot I’ve tried to apply or applied for a position with them.
One thing that I’ve noticed is an interesting factor to the job hunt is the elusive cover letter. Cover letters have become such a vital part with applying for jobs nowadays, that some employers don’t even need to list it as a part of the application process anymore – it’s just a basic necessity, like oxygen or sports. Yes, sports are a basic necessity in my mind, but that’s a blog post for another day.
Anyways, with the various jobs that I’ve applied for, I’ve tried some different versions of my cover letter in order to see which works best. There’s the general one where you just need to change the name of the position and the company, there’s the witty one that shows shades of your personality and then there’s the combination of the two.
I started off using the general cover letter but then I realized that it was pretty basic and that every job I applied for had different qualifications that I needed to list in the cover letter. Then, I used the witty one, which I decided, works for specific jobs, but not for all of them. Finally, I’ve been using the combination of both lately and it’s very enjoyable. I haven’t had any success with any of them – a few interviews here and there, but nothing that has led to a job. However, with the witty one, I did get an email back from the employer quickly asking for more writing samples and complimenting me on how well written and clever it was. Although I didn’t get that position, I’ll chalk it up as a victory for the home team.
Through my months of writing cover letters, I have a few suggestions for writing a great cover letter.
- Start it off with something unordinary, meaning, don’t write, “I am writing in regards to the job position yadda yadda yadda.” As an employer, I’m sure they get millions of cover letters that start out like that. In order to get recognized, you need to be different, so BE different right off the bat and come up with a great opening line that will keep the employer interested and intrigued right away.
- DON’T HAVE ANY SPELLING OR GRAMMAR MISTAKES!!! One of the biggest things that I am an advocate of is making sure that all words are spelled correctly and that there aren’t any misplaced commas or improper usages of semicolons. You’ll just look silly and immediately be dismissed from contention (most of the time). Which leads me into my next one –
- PROOFREAD PROOFREAD PROOFREAD! Reread your cover letter and make sure that you’re not missing words. Even if you use spellcheck, some common words will be passed over even if they’re spelled wrong because you missed a letter. If you have someone you trust, have them proofread your cover letter after you write it. Another way is to make the font size big; I’m talking like 48 point big and then proofread it. Since the font is so big, it’ll make it so there are only a few words on each line and it will force you to read it a lot slower which will help pick up those mistakes that could have been made.
- Tailor your cover letter to the position you’re applying for. If you have experience in social media and the position calls for social media, make sure you highlight that. If the position doesn’t call for social media, you can touch on it, but make sure that you focus the various aspects of the job description.
Those are some of the main tips I have for writing cover letters. I’ve had my cover letter proofed and edited by a few professors and friends, so what I have is definitely a beneficial piece that I can add to my resume. However, the toughest part is actually getting a call back and that’s something that I have yet to master the art of.
Any cover letter tips or suggestions? If so, drop them in a comment. I’d love to hear what other advice you have for us job seekers!