Career Advice from the Expert

Alumni Society - Career Advice from the Expert - Spring 2012

You think your resumé alone is going to land you that interview? Think again. The cover letter is the first thing a hiring manger will see when you apply for a job. It can be the deciding factor in whether your resumé gets a review or is cast aside. Here are some tips for making your cover letter stand out.

Don’t be generic.

Don’t use the same cover letter for every opening you see and just change the name of the employer. Instead, match your skills and strengths to the qualities and competencies the organization is seeking.

Don’t rehash your resumé.

The cover letter should offer something new or show the reader how the skills you’ve acquired in previous positions and experiences will translate to the job. For instance, “As the editor of the social column, I gained the ability to determine factual content, meet deadlines, and deliver content-specific journalism.” Determine which of your skills best align with the position’s description. Don’t have what they’re looking for? See below.

Don’t confess your shortcomings.

Some job seekers draw attention to their weaknesses in the cover letter in an effort to ward off an employer’s objections. But instead, this tactic highlights flaws rather than strengths. Avoid sentences like, “Although I have no related experience, I am very interested in this position,” or “I may not be qualified, but it has always been my dream to work in the banking field.” Think about your transferable skills, and if you aren’t qualified, don’t apply!

For the love of all that is holy, please never, ever use gimmicks.

Sure, it’s different. It’s wacky. But gimmicks don’t get you an interview. So if you think you are being creative and clever, think again.

And remember, don’t use any of these sentences:

“It’s best that I don’t work with people”; “Personal interests include blood donation…14 gallons so far”; and “Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job hopping.’ I have never quit a job.”

Published April 2012