Applying for jobs can be an arduous process. One way to get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers is by presenting a professionally crafted resume. Alison’s new Resume Builder takes this stress away by building you one that will get you noticed. It’s free and simple to use. Your resume is your factsheet. It tells a prospective employer or hiring manager about your skill set and experience level. 

The second half of the job application process is writing a winning cover letter. Your cover letter should highlight your future and tell the recruiter how you will use your past to enhance and achieve your future goals, but what makes you the ideal candidate for the role and why you believe you’re a great fit for the company. Let’s look at everything you need to know about the good, the bad, and the ugly of cover letters.

What Is A Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that accompanies your resume and tells the recruiter why they should hire you. Your cover letter adds  a personal touch to each application and demonstrates all your achievements, experience, qualifications, and most importantly, what makes you the ideal candidate for the position and the best person for the job.

The Benefits Of Writing A Cover Letter

Depending on the job or company, a cover letter is optional. If this is the case, always opt to include a cover letter. It not only shows your interest in the company but allows you to sell yourself to the hiring manager. Writing a cover letter has advantages that make it worth the time spent to craft one.

  • Gives your application a personal touch

Your resume states the facts of your formal qualifications, background and work experience. A cover letter gives the recruiter a better sense of who you are and highlights the exact skills and values you believe will be beneficial to the company you want to work for.

  • Expresses your interest in the company

Hundreds of people will be applying for the job. But if optional, only a handful will add their cover letter. By taking time to specially craft one for the company shows you’ve done research on the company and have an interest in more than just the paycheck.

  • Demonstrates your abilities

The biggest skill your cover letter will showcase is your attention to detail and impeccable writing skills. Communication is a big part of any job and a valuable transferable skill to have. Your cover letter and how well you write it, further shows your suitability for the job, it kick-starts your relationship with the hiring managers and tells your future employer that you are hardworking and willing to go the extra mile.

There are dos and don’ts of cover letters that will either get you to the next stage or send your application to the bin. Here’s everything you need to know about what to do and not do and how to fix it.

The Good

  • Keep it brief. Recruiters don’t have time to read an essay or anything more than 400 words. When written well, 200-400 words should be enough to get your message across.
  • Highlight the relevant skills that will help you excel in the role you’re applying for.
  • Be original. A copy-paste job from your favourite website says nothing about you and the effort you took to apply for the position.
  • Research. Do more research about the position you’re applying for and the company’s needs. You can then match your skills, value and experience in the cover letter to these needs.
  • Include job-specific keywords.
  • Proofread. A perfect cover letter is one without silly mistakes, typos, structural and grammar errors. It speaks to attention to detail – a quality every employer is looking for.

The Bad

You very rarely get a second chance to make a good first impression. More so when your dream job is on the line. These listed examples are cover letter no-nos.

  • Sending one cover letter to all positions you are applying for. Recruiters have a sixth sense for the ‘one-size-fits-all’ letter.
  • A cover letter longer than one page.
  • Not including your unique selling points. Simply saying you are applying for the position is not enough. So are the 101 other applications they’re receiving.
  • Concluding your letter with a passive ending. Don’t just sign off your letter but add something like, “I will follow up in a few days to find out if you have additional questions. Until then, you can find out more about me on my Alison profile and contact me on 555 555-5555 for any questions.

The Ugly

  • An error-laden cover letter. Proofread what you’ve written a few times. You can also ask a friend or family member to give you feedback.  
  • No research on the position and company. Your cover letter should show that you’ve read up on the company, its values, the culture, and the qualities, skills and requirements they’re looking for in a candidate.
  • Very casual tone – using text lingo is a big RED flag.
  • Using the wrong company information in the letter or addressing Mr Jones as “Mrs Davids”.
  • Repeating the content of your resume.
  • Talking only about you, you and you. It’s good to let them know who you are. It’s terrible if your entire letter speaks only about you and nothing about the company.
  • Underselling yourself. Drawing attention to your lack of skills or knowledge is a sure-fire way to not get hired. Focus on what you have and what your future employer will be impressed by.

Always double check your letter before pressing ‘send’. You may spot something in that final check that you missed before. Remember, your resume looks at your past. Your cover letter should highlight your future and tell the recruiter how you will use your past to enhance and achieve your future goals. By applying these to your cover letter, you’ll be well on your way to begin preparing for your interview. If your resume is your elevator pitch, then your cover letter is what will take you to the top floor. Add icing on the “cake” by including your Alison Public Profile to your application and send it along. Your dream job awaits.


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