Putting together a cover letter is every bit as important as putting together a portfolio and a resume (or CV) for a job. Yet, it’s the one area that too many people get lazy with. They write a nice general cover letter and just copy and paste it with every job. Yet, these same people will spend hours personalizing their CV for the same job. The tragedy is that without the right cover letter in many cases no-one will ever read that CV.
Here are some hints to help you prepare the right cover letter for your dream design job:
It’s 2015 not 1950
In 2015 we send CVs by e-mail rather than snail mail. We also don’t start e-mails to people with “Dear Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern”. If your cover letter starts like this it deserves to go in the bin. It will read like a form letter and who wants to read a form letter?
“Dear Mr. X” or even “Hi” (if you have no name to address it to) is a much better way to start a conversation with a potential employer.
Employers are Not Clones
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Yes, we know how tempting it is to send a single CV to 1,000 (or more) potential employers in one go by using the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) facility in your e-mail client. There are two things you should know about this approach. 1. It makes your e-mail provider think that you are a spammer. 2. It makes employers feel like you’re a spammer. You have to personalize things to an employer not just send out a form letter.
You are Not a Clone
It’s always a good idea to let some of your real-self leak into your cover letter. You’re not a robot and don’t write letters like one. Bring your personality and interests to the table. Give examples of relevant ideas to the company you’re applying to in the cover letter. Talk about how what you’re currently doing benefits the employer. And so on…
Keep it Short Though
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It’s good to let your personality shine through; it’s not so good to write an essay. Don’t forget that you are one of many looking for work; if it takes an hour to read a cover letter then it’s not going to get read. So keep it attention grabbing and to the point.
Attach Some Work, But Not All Your Work
Keep attachments small and stick to the highlights of what you can do. If you have 100 samples; now is not the time to share them. Pick the 2 or 3 best that fit the employer’s needs best. Catch and hold their attention don’t waste it.
Do as You’re Told
If you’re asked to send your cover letter to a certain place or if they’ve asked you to attach a particular document – do it. You can’t expect any employer to take someone seriously who won’t follow instructions when they’re looking for work.
Don’t Forget to Include Contact Details
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I think everyone has done this at some point but a cover letter without contact details is a wasted letter. If someone is interested they may want to take action immediately and schedule an interview; make it very easy for them to do so.
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