By now, we have all now written several cover letters to employers. I’ve always found cover letters difficult to write. At first glance, it seems easy because you follow a formula: explain why you’re writing, address your skills for the position and close.
The other day, squished in the six-by-six office cube, my boss, the nonprofit marketing director, mumbled pieces of a cover letter and voiced his opinion to me, and let me just say, it wasn’t a good review. While the guy followed the basic formula, he forget to add several crucial details that could determine if he gets the position.
- Show, don’t tell!
The poor guy, whose cover letter was destroyed, failed to keep his audience interested. His writing lacked personality and my boss mentioned it felt insincere and forced. Instead of writing a cover letter like that, tell a story (in a few words) of how your past experiences and skills brought success to your employer. Always show, don’t tell!
- Answer the questions
It’s always important to address the questions an employer asks; this is one of the mistakes the guy made and I could tell by my boss’s reaction that it bothered him. It may seem obvious, but the employer asked it for a reason, so make sure you clearly answer it.
- Employers don’t always read it
Yep, he sometimes doesn’t have enough time to read a full-page cover letter. I thought he was joking, until he told me he didn’t even read mine! I applied for a different position and talked with a woman about my interests, who then told him I would be perfect as his intern. That’s why he hired me. You’ll never know if this happens, so make sure your cover letter addresses points 1 and 2!
- Find the right closing
I have “sincerely” set on my iPhone as my default signature for every email, personal or professional. When he helped set up my office email, he sort of snorted when I wrote, “Sincerely, Felicia Kloewer.” In his opinion, it’s just too formal for emailing the people we support at our nonprofit. He suggested, “Best.” I suggest changing your closing depending on who you’re contacting.