Cover Letter or Covering too much?

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‘Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much’


You have found your perfect job at the perfect company; you grab a mug of coffee and update your resume. You are feeling good. You are feeling confident about your chances of obtaining an interview.

Now you come to write your cover letter and it suddenly feels like your fingers don’t want to communicate with your brain. Your mind goes blank.

You turn to Google for help. You become so overwhelmed with the amount of advice on what to write and what not to write that you slam your laptop shut and forget about applying for that dream job!

Yes, this does happen. No, it does not have too.

7 Seconds!

Many of my clients ask me if cover letters are read by hiring managers and the sure-fire answer to that is YES. But, you have approximately seven seconds to capture their attention and encourage them to read on.

Your cover letter allows you to aim, shoot and fire.

What do I mean by that?

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Imagine you are an archer and you have been asked to shoot an apple off the head of the local sheriff! You know you are an expert archer. Now you need to guide the sheriff to stand where you want him too. You capture his attention. You aim. You shoot and hit the apple clean in two! Phew!

You want to me them feel like you are the answer to their issues. It is less about outwardly showing off and more about making them feel they need you.

Also note: Honestly, even though there is often great importance put on supplying a cover letter, they also rarely get read. BUT if they do, they might just be your chance of getting through the bouncer straight to the VIP lounge.

Dear Diary….

A cover letter is not the time to tell your life history! You have seven seconds, so do not waste them talking about how you won ‘prom queen’ in high school and how GREAT you are at baking.

Sure, highlight your achievements and tell a story, but keep it short and relevant to the company and position you are applying for.

I am original…...honest!

I have literally read hundreds of cover letters and there is nothing worse than a canned or downloaded cover letter. They stand out like a bright pink wig at Halloween!

Sure, get a feel for the layout of a cover letter, but do not copy it word for word. I would rather see someone has tried their best and it was not perfect than copy a letter they have downloaded. What else are they hiding?

On that note; forget the ‘office’ talk. Using phrases like ‘team player’ and ‘people person’ are too overused and really tell the hiring manager nothing about what that actually means.

If you feel like you are a ‘team player’, explain! Does that mean you were key in merging a group of people together on a particular project? Write like a normal person and you will stand out from the crowd.

How to…..

If you are full of cover letter fear; save it for Halloween! Check out my five top tips on how you can write a killer (pun intended) cover letter.

1. Keep it short & sweet

Try to keep your cover letter under a page. 250 words seem to be the soft spot when it comes to hiring managers. Remember to use your first 7 seconds well.

      2. Lose the formality?

Don’t be too formal. For example; ‘Dear Hiring Manager, I would like to convey my interest….’ is too formal and I assure you they would have read that sentence at least 20 times before they have even got to your letter. Are you original or a robot? If the company you are applying to work for likes formality, then you should too. After all, it will be a part of their culture and you will need to fit in.

     3. Show what you CAN do for them.

Show the hiring manager what you can do for them in the future. Your resume will highlight what you have done. What are you going to bring to the company that solves a need for them? Think about the job description and see how your cover letter can address it. What can you offer? What can you do for them?

     4. Don’t be a parrot!

Do not fall into the trap of repeating what your resume already details. Simple.

     5. Be you!

Most importantly, be real and be you. Write your cover letter from a genuine place, be proud of your achievements and show them you want the job and why they should be calling you in for an interview.  

Do you still need some help with your cover letter? Get in touch with a 15 minutes FREE coaching session just for you!

Olivia Jaras