The purpose of a cover letter is to seduce the reader and give them a reason to pick up the phone and call you. You want to create an air of excitement and engagement that spurs action.
Here are three things that can hinder your ability to be noticed:
1. Your cover letter is poorly written
Typos are unforgiveable in a cover letter or resume. Proofread carefully and ask someone else to review the documents as well. Page length is also important; a cover letter is more than a 140-character tweet but should not exceed one page.
Have you used generic and boring language that is basic and devoid of creativity? Or worse, did you repeat verbatim content from your resume? Maximize the use of the English language (and a thesaurus) to deliver a compelling message to support your candidacy with new words.
2. Your cover letter is not personally addressed
People love seeing and hearing their own name, so personalizing a cover letter goes a long way to establishing a relationship with a decision maker. Even when you’re responding to an advertisement, always call the HR department and ask for the formal name and title of the hiring manager. Alternatively, LinkedIn and a Google search are useful resources to find an appropriate contact name.
It doesn’t matter if you are one of four or four hundred applicants, this small effort can give you a big competitive edge, positioning yourself as the prime competitor.
3. Your cover letter is inconsistent with your personal brand
You don’t need a logo or professionally-designed template, but do be consistent in your messaging and format across all your career documents. Use the same font and heading style in your resume and cover letter, ensuring the chosen style emits a professional impression. Sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri are easy to read on screen and in print.
Choose one font and heading style and stick with it across all your materials. Otherwise you send a poor message about how you present yourself, and your attention to detail. First impressions count!
Additional tips for cover letter success
Be upfront to address any gaps, for example if the job posting says an MBA is desired and you do not have one. Explain why you are still the perfect candidate, “I would like to draw your attention to the fact that although I do not have my MBA, my MBA has been accrued in the workplace.”
Personalize the entire letter, not just the name. Use personal pronouns (“I”), but focus on the company rather than making it all about you. What will your skills and assets do for them? What solution can you bring? Say exactly what makes them a preferred potential employer, and demonstrate that you’ve done your research by referencing their new product line, upcoming event, or recent social media posts.
Always end off with a powerful, compelling statement, such as: “[Company name] has the opportunity to employ a dynamic Facility Manager. Are you willing to partner with me? If so, may we meet to discuss in more detail the value I can bring [company name?] Thank you for the time and consideration. I’m looking forward to your call.”