Is Your Cover Letter Dead? 5 Illnesses that Kill Cover Letters

Cover letters have become a dying art, and that’s resulted in a lot of cover letters that should be put to death. If you’re applying for a new job, make sure your cover letter isn’t suffering from any of these potentially fatal conditions:


1. It doesn’t exist

Roughly half of the job applications submitted do not include a cover letter. What a waste of an opportunity! Not only does your cover letter give you the chance to put your own personal touch on your job submission, applications with a cover letter are taken more seriously than applications without one.

If your cover letter is missing in action, do yourself a favor… get one.


2. It’s boring

If you’re going to create a cover letter, why not create one that’s interesting to read?

Oftentimes, cover letters are flat, stale, laced with outdated buzzwords, and just plain boring. Why not make it interesting? Memorable? Worthy of the reader’s time?

Do you really want this job? Then show some passion. Show some life. Make the cover letter worth reading and worth remembering. Write as if you are speaking directly to the reader and making the case as to why you are the best candidate for the job.


3. It’s not personalized

I love hearing about how people are applying for 25 or more jobs per day. I guess if you scour the online job boards and throw your resume at enough open positions, something is bound to stick, right?

Well, maybe, but is that job really worth having?

I have a better idea. Set your goal at applying for 4 or 5 jobs a day and apply for them using a personalized cover letter. You can start with your standard, uplifting and noteworthy format, but instead of keeping in generic, include specifics about the position and how your experiences and qualifications make you the ideal candidate.

Focus on quality, not quantity.


4. It’s too long

One of my favorite sayings is “Say what you want to say and shut up.” Unfortunately, some people simply don’t know when to shut up.

Any potentially great cover letter can lose its luster if it goes on too long. Hiring managers have plenty to read these days, including a huge stack of resumes and cover letters. The most effective cover letters will state their case, back up their statement with a few examples, and wind it up with a tight closing.

When it’s done right, the reader will want to know more, read your resume, and call you in for an interview. Now that’s a successful cover letter!


5. It doesn’t use keywords

Whether the cover letter will be scanned by an applicant tracking system or read by a living, breathing human being, keywords will bring your cover letter to life.

Using keywords in a cover letter is easy. First, examine the job listing and identify 5 or 6 key terms that demonstrate what qualifications the employer is looking for. Then, work those words into your cover letter. You’ll look like the perfect match.

If your cover letter is breathing its last breath, One Great Resume can help. We create customized cover letters as part of our resume packages, or as a stand-alone service.


Let’s get to work!