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PDF Editor FAQ

Does anyone actually read cover letters?

Big disclaimer: I am just one lowly recruiter. There are a lot of other people in my profession and I don't speak for us all. But what I'm about to say is what I feel is an accurate sample size of what most of my peers in my field can all agree on.Hard truth on this one: absolutely not. Not only do we not usually read them, most of the time we don't even open that attachment or give cover letters a cursory glance. It's such a waste of time. Many companies have even stopped asking for them altogether.But I'll tell you who DOES read cover letters: hiring managers. Not all. In fact, a lot don't, but in the entire hiring equation, were I to assign likelihood, a hiring manager is more prone to read the cover letter than anyone else involved. And even then, I'd add another factor that narrows the field - hiring managers at small companies with lower hiring volume (like a small non-profit) are more likely to read a cover letter than a hiring manager at companies like Amazon or KPMG.In my opinion, if you want your cover letter to be read, do these things:Don't apply online but email your resume to a recruiter or hiring manager instead.Don't make it an actual "letter." Instead, make it the body of the email with your resume attached. When people attach a letter AND a resume to an email, let me just say only one attachment is getting opened, and it's always the resume. So don't even bother.Keep it short and to the point. Like seriously, five sentences is all that's necessary. If you're in sales or something maybe a few bullet points. But no multiple paragraphs. Long cover letters are simply not going to get read.Tailor it. Get the name of the company right in the cover letter. When I did campus recruiting for new grads at Expedia, 1 out of 2 times, the candidate got this wrong. They were applying to companies at such volume it wasn't uncommon to see "I'm excited about the possibility of an opportunity at Microsoft or Google or some other company that was not the company for which I worked."Inject some personality into it...please. If your cover letter sounds like that of everyone else, you have completely defeated the purpose.Similar to "objectives" on a resume, cover letters are a bit of a throwback to another era in job hunting where we didn't have fancy applicant tracking systems that connected a candidate's application with a tangible job/requisition. But for some reason we want to continue this exercise, so we may as well do it with more flair. I would also say cover letter requirements are industry specific. In tech one of the more evolved industries, I feel like they're totally unnecessary. That may not be the case in finance or management consulting, or any of the "bedrock" industries.

How bad is a typo on a resume?

A family member was a school governor.He used to auto-bin any resume / covering letter that had a spelling mistake.One job opening they had received 11 applications, of which 7 had spelling mistakes. He was particularly amused by the one who mis-spelled “teacher.”However, in my world - that of IT - it’s far more common to see resumes that have been made over by agencies. So I don’t assume that such typos are actually issues from the candidate.

What is important to include on a cover letter?

Your cover letter is often your first interview with a company, the first chance for a hiring agent to get to know you. A good resume cover letter can help you make a good impression and get an interview. A weak cover letter might cause your resume to be placed in the reject pile.Many of our clients have asked, “What do I put in my cover letter?” And nearly all of our clients have needed assistance with organizing the content of their letters. Below, we will address both of these issues. If you come seeking our help with your resume and cover letter, great. However, the brief guide below should get you started on writing a successful cover letter.Cover Letter Content and OrganizationParagraph One: Introduce yourself and state your intentions. This 1 to 2-sentence paragraph tells the reviewer who you are and why you are submitting your cover letter and resume. For companies with multiple job openings, this paragraph also tells the reviewer which pile to put your resume in. Your name is at the bottom of the letter in the signature line, so you don’t need to repeat it here. Instead, describe the type of person you are.Example: As an experienced sales and marketing professional, I am interested in the position of regional sales manager with the XYZ Company.Paragraph Two: Summarize your qualifications for the position. Focus on your abilities, not your specific skills. (Abilities are personal characteristics; skills are specific behaviors you can perform. You can learn skills, if needed, but abilities tell what kind of person you are.) The description of your abilities lets the reviewer know if you will be able to learn the skills and how you will perform in a professional environment.However, be careful of using “buzz words” without illustration. You can briefly address your professional history in this paragraph as a way to illustrate your abilities. 3 to 4 sentences should be sufficient.Example: I am a creative, yet focused, professional with strong managerial skills. My knowledge of system integration, coupled with my leadership abilities, has enabled me to identify and enact efficiencies in even the most complicated organizational environments. For example, in my most recent position, I created new quality control processes and instructed inter-departmental teams on their use. Although I am a “company man,” I am also an individual thinker, seeking new opportunities for the company to reach target markets and surpass financial goals.Paragraph Three: In this paragraph, you answer this question: “Why are you applying for this position?” In answering this question, you address two issues. First, describe how this position fits your abilities and interests. In a sense, you are saying that this position is appropriate for who you are now. Second, describe how this position will help you advance your career goals. This tells the reviewer that you have a strong interest in the position and will do what you can to succeed and grow. Again, 3 to 4 sentences will be enough.Example: The leadership and marketing perspective required for a regional sales manager align with my abilities and experiences. I am enthusiastic about expanding my broad knowledge of the market and diverse populations, two aspects of this position I find particularly exciting. Furthermore, this position will assist me to advance into progressively higher responsibilities, and it will provide the satisfaction I earn by succeeding in new and challenging responsibilities.Paragraph Four: The final paragraph is short, 1 – 2 sentences only. In this paragraph, you bring your resume cover letter to a close by thanking the reviewer and by calling for action. You say “thank you” because that is polite and professional. (After all, the person has read this far and deserves your gratitude.) The action step is essential. Here you answer the question “What’s next?” Will you call the person? Do you want the person to contact you? Do you want to set up an interview? State the action as the final sentence.Example: Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss how I can support the mission of the XYZ Company.Word Choice to Express Your IdeasThe content of your cover letter is important, but so is how you express your ideas. The words you use affect how the personnel manager interprets the content. Based on our work helping clients prepare resumes, we have created a list of 7 words your resume needs, words that will create a favorable impression of you.1. SuccessfullyCompanies want to hire winners. Use this word to describe your accomplishments in a prior responsibility.Example: I successfully negotiated a new contract for services.2. LeadershipCompanies want to hire leaders. Use this word to describe your involvement with task and project teams.Example: Under my leadership, the customer service unit managed all client records.3. TeamCompanies want to hire people who can cooperate with others to accomplish company goals. Use this word to describe your involvement with colleagues.Example: Our team was responsible for answering customers’ questions about products.4. CreatedCompanies want to hire innovators. Use this word to describe new ideas and processes you developed.Example: I created a checklist to track daily service tasks.5. Expanded/Increased (the verb, not the adjective)Companies want to hire people that will help them grow. Use this word to describe your participation in company growth.Example: During this time, the company expanded the product line to include 2 new models.6. Support (the verb, not the noun)Companies want to hire people who will assist the management team. Use this word to describe your relationship with your former supervisors.Example: I supported the division director by compiling financial data.7. WillCompanies want to hire people who are confident about their ability to deliver what they promise. Use this word to describe what you will do if hired.Example: I will solve customer software and hardware problems.Some of these words may not apply to your resume or cover letter. However, if you think carefully about your prior experiences, you will find that you can use most of them. Using these words does not guarantee that you will get the job you want, but they will help you make a good impression.Final ThoughtsEffective writing and the correct use of writing mechanics are very important. Once you have developed the draft of your resume and cover letter, you will need to edit it carefully.

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