By: Cindy Makita-Dodd
Cover letters are the front page of your resume. Crafting a unique cover letter will serve to not only introduce you to the potential employer but also to help you build your case as a strong candidate for the role.
In the online hiring world, candidates try their very best to put their best foot forward, get noticed by their dream employers, and ultimately hope to land their dream jobs as easily and quickly as possible.
With thousands of applicants flooding online applications, it is essential that candidates understand the basic rules of standing out, in addition to taking a more strategic approach to their application process.
One such strategy is crafting a cover letter.
Cover letters are the front page of your resume. They give the potential employer the opportunity to get to know more about you and ultimately aids them in their ultimate decision to take the next steps with you in the hiring process.
As a Hiring Manager myself, I review many cover letters on a daily basis. Not only does it get tedious (and honestly boring) when you read the generic “To Whom It May Concern” letter from hundreds of applicants, but when candidates don’t take the time to customize their cover letters for the role I’m hiring for, it is an easy way for me to screen them out.
The truth is that most people use their cover letters as a way to restate what’s already in their resume. To create the ultimate standout cover letter one must understand that company’s hire not only for skill-fit but for cultural-fit as well.
What is the culture of a company?
Company Culture is the vision, the mission, the core values that make up the company, and the company’s DNA. It reflects a company’s way of doing things or what their work environment is like. When an employer is hiring, they’re not just looking for candidates that can do the job (skill-fit), they also want whoever they’re bringing into their company to match the DNA of the company. They hire based on how closely you align with the mission and values of the company as well.
How do you show that you are a cultural fit?
Through your cover letter! Your cover letter allows you to show the potential employer that you align with the company mission, that you resonate with their core values, and that you overall match their DNA.
Now, with that in mind, let us look at the Extreme Cover Letter mistakes that you must avoid at all costs if you want to build a winning cover letter:
1. Restating your Resume
Your cover letter is not the place where you want to explain what is already in your resume. Your resume should do a good job of that already. Your cover letter’s main job is to highlight certain areas that show your personality, how your values fit in with the company culture, and how you align with the company mission.
2. Focusing too much on what you can do versus how you can add value
The employer doesn’t just want to know what you can do. They want to know how you can add value. Use your cover letter as an opportunity to show the employer that you can help the company succeed. Instead of just stating a list of skills or referencing responsibilities already included in your resume, highlight 3 areas that you think you can help the company or department based on your previous experience.
3. Using “To whom it may concern” instead of addressing the hiring manager directly
Avoid using this overly formal and very impersonal way of addressing the person reading your letter. Instead, use the name of the Hiring Manager directly, or “Dear Hiring Team” if you do not know their name.
4. Not including a call to action
A great cover letter must end with a call to action. This call to action tells the person reading what steps you want them to take after reading your cover letter. A good call to action can be indicating your availability is for an interview or providing your contact information so that they can contact you directly and speak with you further.
Use these tips to show that you’re a great cultural fit through the power of your cover letter! Do your research on the company, speak to current employees, ask them about what the culture is like, research online, and effectively portray that not only are you the best candidate for the role because you can add value but more importantly, you fit with the DNA of the company.
All the best!
Cindy Makita-Dodd is a top-rated Career Strategist & Coach and the founder of Hired Institute. In 2020, Cindy was selected by LinkedIn as a ‘LinkedIn Career Expert’ and through her company, Hired Institute, helps people land their dream jobs. Cindy believes that everyone has the potential to pursue their ideal careers but they may not know the steps to get there. She helps people navigate the complexities of the job market and overcome the hurdles holding them back from achieving career success to ultimately land jobs they love. She’s been featured in WGN-TV, Business Talk Radio, Fox34, and more sharing her strategies with job seekers all across the globe.