With unemployment at an all-time low, many employers are complaining they're struggling to find the talent they need. Meanwhile, millions of job seekers are frustrated by the lack of responses they're getting from applying to jobs online. Especially when they take the extra time to write a cover letter.
Recruiters Say Most Cover Letters Stink
One of the most common things recruiters say when it comes to cover letters is, "You've seen one, you've seen them all." That's because the majority of job seekers copy free templates off the internet. And sadly, these templates are pretty outdated. Given how many applicants recruiters have to go through to find candidates (the average is 100-plus applicants per position), they quickly become adept at skimming cover letters to determine if the applicant has sent them a dud. If they see one or more things that indicate the candidate's cover letter is just like every other one, they'll throw it in the trash. Having worked with thousands of recruiters, I can tell you, the following are the three worst things you can do in your cover letter.
1. "To whom it may concern." Nothing screams "I'm out of touch" more than addressing the cover letter with this phrase. While you may not know the hiring manager or recruiter's name, you can at least write "Dear hiring team" to make it a bit more personal.
2. "I'm a [insert bragging here]." If you met the recruiter face to face, you wouldn't launch into a long monologue about how talented you are. That would be weird. And yet, people suddenly go into over-the-top self-promotion mode when they write a cover letter. The cover letter shouldn't be about how amazing you think you are. Instead, it should focus on how you know the employer is exceptional at what it does. It's your job to show the company you understand what it's all about, and by default, would fit in with their corporate culture.
3. "If you look at my résumé you'll see, blah, blah, blah." There is zero need to recap your résumé in the cover letter. The recruiter is capable of looking over your skills and experience. Repeating yourself in the cover letter is a big waste of the recruiter's time--something they don't appreciate.
Smart job seekers know how to get recruiters at "hello."
Want your cover letter to stand out and get recruiters to call you? Then you need to share something attention-grabbing. A strong opening line that generates curiosity, such as,
"I remember the first time I learned the importance of your product," followed up by a powerful personal story that ties you to the employer's mission is the best way to showcase you're a match for their corporate culture. This is referred to as the disruptive cover letter technique, and it provides recruiters with refreshingly original content that makes them want to speak to the candidate who wrote it.
Don't turn recruiters off with a boring, just-like-all-the-others cover letter. Instead, focus on creating something that engages the hearts and minds of recruiters--ultimately, motivating them to want to talk to the talented person who was wise enough to write something that's both relevant and unique.