Hello and Welcome to Captain Career Videocasts/Blog Series, a series of how-to videos and posts. I am Martin Buckland, a Global Executive Career Management Practitioner. This is a series of posts where I share my wealth of knowledge on executive career management. Today we are going to talk about the Seven Cover Letter Mistakes and the 5 types of cover letters.
There’s a lot of conversation about whether cover letters are still needed. They ARE still needed, much like a resume is still needed.
A cover letter, written in the personal pronoun, takes you from today forward and a resume takes you from today backward. I’m going to review all of the seven cover letter mistakes:
Failing to Personalize. Many people say that generic cover letters are terrible, that it will crucify you. You need to customize that cover letter to that particular appointment, that particular job. You need to do a little bit of research and if it’s an advertisement, you need to take some of the buzzwords from the ad and put them into your cover letter. Make sure it’s personalized.
Starting with A Week Paragraph. First impressions count and we read from top to bottom. You need to seduce the reader instantly so the first paragraph is very, very important in capturing their attention. You are selling yourself in this one, yes, a one page document. Don’t go to two pages.
Too Long, Too Short. Keep it to one page, but don’t just do half a page or a third of a page. Fill that page, but don’t go to two pages.
Being Generic. You need to narrow down why they want to employ you. Give them some compelling reasons to pick up the phone and give you a call for the interview because that’s what a resume and a cover letter are supposed to do. The cover letter doesn’t get you the job but it should get you the interview. So, don’t be generic. Be very narrow and give them some really seductive and compelling reasons to give you a call.
Rehashing Your Resume. Don’t repeat verbatim everything that is on your resume. That’s cheating and it’s not good. The English language is so marvelous that you can reinvent the verbiage, from your resume and refresh it and make it look even more compelling or just as compelling as your resume.
Under Selling Your Skills, You have multiple skills, so sell yourself. You are a sales page and this is your sales proposal. Some people have difficulty, I fact, many people have difficulties selling themselves. This is your chance to toot your own horn and that can be a bir tough, especially if you’re an introvert. Ironically, sales and marketing professionals are the world’s worst at selling themselves.
Being Humorous. We all like humour and we all like to have fun but this is a business proposition. Keep your humour out of this document and any other conversation you have with a decision-maker.
5 Types of Cover Letters
As I said a little earlier on, cover letters are written in the personal pronoun and there are 5 different types of cover letters. I’m going to go through them. I’m got to give you some examples.
An Advertisement. In your response to an advertisement, tell them you are the perfect candidate. Or if you’re not quite the perfect candidate because maybe you have something missing out of what they are looking for, be open, be honest and tell them that you perhaps don’t have an MBA, however, your MBA has been accrued in the workplace or something like that. But be open. Be honest. Because skills right now in a good economy are short. You just need to be open and honest in response to an ad and give them a compelling reason why they should pick up the phone and give you a call.
The Recruiter. Recruiters play a huge role in your recruitment, but you need to build relationships with them and you need to fortify those relationships and you need to maintain those relationships. One thing an executive recruiter is looking for in a cover letter is whether you’re willing to relocate. A recruiter in Toronto or a recruiter in New York or a recruiter in London has a wide geography. They are national but they don’t normally go out of their country. A recruiter in Toronto could be hiring in Halifax or they could be hiring in Vancouver and a recruiter in London could be hiring in Manchester. You need to tell them whether you’re willing to relocate or not. If you’re not willing to relocate give them some idea of whether you’re willing to travel and if you are willing to travel, what percentage of the 40 hour work week would you be willing to travel…just give them a rough percentage.
Direct Mail. So this is to a decision-maker. You find one of your targeted companies that you’ve unearthed and you want to go work for and you find that decision-maker and then you target the person who will be your boss or your boss’s boss via direct mail. That’s a direct mail cover letter that is very, very specific asking them for a meeting.
Networking. We all live in a networking world. You need to network. Somebody you meet in a network might introduce you to somebody else. You would say something like, “Hello, my name is Mark. Mr. Smith of ABC company has introduced me to you. He thinks I would be the ideal candidate at ABC company.” So networking is very, very important.
PAIN Cover Letter Even in good economies there are companies in pain, hurting companies needing your particular talent, especially if you are in digital transformation or you can elevate the status of your department to a true business partner. There are companies in pain but you need to help uncover that pain. And that’s where your research using LinkedIn and various other tools that are available to us today can help. You can uncover companies that are hurting and then you can put a business case together with a cover letter that will be a pain cover letter. Perhaps you can give an example of how, in a previous company, you were able to resolve very similar issues and now you are anxious to resolve them for this company.
In Summary, a cover letter takes you from today forward and is written in the personal pronoun and gives you an opportunity to toot your own hold. Tell the person what a great hire you will be.
I am passionate about helping you reach your career goals. I have an offer for you, a free resume critique, and a LinkedIn audit. No obligation, no sales page. I will give you 30 minutes of my time; however, I warn you I am tough. I am realistic. I say it as it is because you only get one kick of the can. First impressions count. I will remove all those red flags so you have a stream of green flags, so you can sail through and beat your competition in a job search. Are you interested? If so, email your resume either link below or through LinkedIn.