You’ve gone through your resume endlessly, especially after finding a job posting that perfectly matches your skills. But did your cover letter deserve the same attention?
Many hiring managers use your cover letter to gauge your interest in the company as well as your aptitude for the job. Therefore, when you say, “Dear Sir, I am interested in your job opening, here is my resume,” you miss out on convincing employers to take you seriously.
Here are five of the top cover letter mistakes that can quickly put you out of the running for a leadership position:
1. Your cover letter’s opening line is boring
“I’m an operations director with 18 years of experience” or “In response to your CEO ad, I’ve attached my resume” aren’t really compelling enough to use as an opening statement. Instead, try a hook that makes the hiring manager sit up straighter, like in these examples:
“Would a VP of Sales who consistently drives teams ahead of quota (up to 52%) make a difference in your national rankings?
“As CIO of global company ABC Consulting, I increased customer satisfaction to 97% in 3 outsourcing engagements, driving our revenue growth to its peak despite the recession. I’m interested in creating the same results for you.”
The idea is to be specific about the employer’s pain points while describing the performance impact you’ve had in previous roles. Note that each of these sentences contains metrics, a target job title, and a career-defining achievement, framed in context and put at a glance for the reader.
At Work It DAILY, we encourage members to follow our disruptive cover letter format and use stories to engage the hiring manager. The key is to show a connection between you and the company. Your opening line should also influence the research you’ve done on the company, per the next point.
2. Your cover letter doesn’t tell employers how you’ll solve their problems
Pulling off a list of competencies isn’t strong enough to set you apart from other candidates, but speaking directly to the company’s needs will do.
You need to dig into the company’s history, press releases, annual reports, social media accounts and other news to find out their pain points. What kind of expansion is planned? Have revenues declined in previous quarters? What are industry analysts saying about the company’s future and business strategy?
Armed with this information, you can more succinctly match your leadership skills to the employer’s needs;
“My ability to generate business development results (30% growth in sales of cloud-based solutions in the fourth quarter of 2022) can solve any difficulties you have had in entering this market. can we talk
3. The main points of your cover letter do not match (or exceed) the requirements of the job
Like resumes, cover letters should be precise and targeted to the reader. It should focus them on the reasons they should hire you and the benefits your job can provide.
As you write, keep the job description in front of you to remind you of what the employer is looking for. Then look for ways to indicate how you can exceed these expectations. The following paragraph is taken from the IT director’s cover letter.
“Your ad states that you claim leadership in service delivery and customer satisfaction. My career includes 3 years with a 97% satisfaction rating achieved by improving infrastructure and network capacity, and I consider responsive service to be my #1 priority.”
4. Your cover letter is not addressed to a real person
Finding a contact name within a company has never been easier. First, you can use LinkedIn to search for an employer. Next, go to the People tab on the company page and find the name of the hiring manager or department head. For example, a business development manager might search for keywords like “VP Sales” or “COO” to identify the contact for the next level manager, while an IT product director might try to find the CIO’s name.
If you can’t find a name through LinkedIn, be sure to check Zoominfo.com or the company’s About Us page. If you have access to Dun & Bradstreet, you can also use that resource to find company insiders. In addition, Data core is a free contact name database available at many public libraries and requires only your library card to access.
Taking the time to come up with a name (versus “Dear Hiring Manager”) will help your letter make more of an impact on the target employer.
5. You are not assertive in your cover letter
This is especially important if you are in an executive or high-level position. Employers love to see a takeover style (the same one you’ll use to deal with salespeople or your new team).
If your closing line isn’t strong, you risk looking too passive. “Thank you in advance for reviewing my credentials” is polite and professional, of course. However, “I plan to exceed your requirements as your next VP of Finance” and “I am confident that I can demonstrate the leadership you are looking for in your next CIO” are both stronger.
Even more intense, “I’ll follow up with you next Tuesday” shows your specific intent to influence the hiring audience and gives them advance notice of the proactive steps you’ll take to secure the interview.
To summarize, there’s no reason to settle for a bland, one-size-fits-all cover letter that blends in with the rest. Your job search will be better when you zero in on the hiring audience with an unforgettable opening, especially when it draws a parallel between the employer’s needs and your unique value.
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This article was originally published on an earlier date.
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