#100Wednesdays : Cover Letters

Join us every Wednesday at 3 during your afternoon slump when we keep it a buck about resumes, cover letters, interview, money, and more. Sometimes we even throw in a little organizing advice or resources for grassroots folks.

This week, we’re focusing on cover letter (Law & Order bom-bom)

You hate writing them, and chances are the HR person reading yours probably hates reading them. Alas, we still have to write them. You could take the easy way out and hire me (Lnee Research & Development) or you could read this article and put your whole foot in it. Ahead, we’re sharing 3 tips for a knock out cover letter.

1. Employee-see, Employee-do

This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how many people skip over this step. Mimic the job description! While it’s frowned upon to copy and paste, you should definitely identify places in your work or academic history that speak to what the company is looking for. For instance, if the job calls for “extensive budget management and reporting experience”, you better twerk that Lowe’s cashier job into related work. Or you can include your position as treasurer in your sorority’s charity foundation. The cover letter can include a story about setting up your son’s custodial stick account with no prior experience. Just be sure that your cover letter is a reflection of the role they’re trying to fill.

2. Calm Down

As someone with anxiety, I understand how insecurities and stress about something your really want can be overwhelming. You only have 1 page. Don’t attempt to show them the entirety of your professional life. Breathe and focus down to one or two key skills you want to highlight. How do those skills match what they’re looking for? Now that you’ve answered that, connect it to a narrative from your career. Remember–the cover letter is not a clone of your resume. Instead, it illustrates how the experiences you have shape the way you’ll show up at work. You don’t need to appear perfect. In fact, you may want to share a time when you learned from a mistake. The best leaders aren’t perfect. They’re just willing to learn and keep it moving.

3. Spell Check

Again. This is simple, but often overlooked. While one or two grammar mistakes may not completely put you out of the running, (I have hired folks with minor spelling errors on their resume or LinkedIn profile), you should still look through your cover letter before you submit it. Have a friend or colleague look it over. Review it before submitting with a good night’s sleep under your belt for the best results.

I can’t say this enough–DON’T LIE. Embellishing is one thing, but don’t flat out lie. You’ll get caught slipping at some point.

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Cover letter writing is not an exact science. You’ll stumble. You’ll get frustrated. You may even binge watch an entire season before you’ve finished a paragraph. Don’t worry though. You can do this. And if you can’t, just hire me!

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