Posted by: Louis Lavelle on September 15
Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA career center at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration, knows a thing or two about cover letters. Here she shares a few tips about making sure yours lands in the call-back pile, not the trash bin.
Critical Success Factors
• Customized to the specific company and job - generic form letters can not differentiate you from the competition, focus on their specific needs and how you can add value, demonstrate your knowledge of the company and/or industry
• Execute flawlessly - perfection is expected, no typos or grammatical errors or you will likely be eliminated
• Focus on what’s in it for them (WIFM) - how can you add value and address their specific needs
• Connect the dots for them - most likely you have not done this exact job in this exact industry before, don't assume they will figure out how your experience is transferable, don't expect them to read carefully enough and devote enough time to figure this out on their own, show them how you meet their specific needs and the unique value you bring to the table
• Demonstrate interest, passion and enthusiasm - why this position and company? What's unique about you?
Direct Route to the Rejection Pile
• Errors - typos or grammatical errors often mean automatic rejection, shows poor attention to detail
• Obvious form letter - worse still leaving in the name of a different company from last time you used the template, form letters are easy to spot and add no value
• Bragging or overstating your experience - face reality - 3 years is not extensive experience
• Assuming you know too much about their company - don't assert that you know their intimate workings and challenges based on your web research
• Rehashing your resume - they can read, don't give them the "I did this and then I did this...." Does not add value