Despite what many so-called experts might tell you, the cover letter is an integral part of applying for a job. Every resume you send should be accompanied by a properly-prepared cover letter unless they are specifically forbidden, which rarely happens. If you are confused about how you should write your cover letter, check out these five cover letter myths you should know about.
Cover Letter Myth #1: Your cover letter is a summary of your resume/CV
The purpose of your resume is to set you apart from the hundreds of other possible applicants, and should not be redundant when coupled with your resume. While you might want to expound upon your experience or education that is mentioned in the resume or CV, you should concentrate more on explaining why you are applying for the specific position and how you believe you can be an asset to the company.
Cover Letter Myth #2: Your cover letter can be a template that you send to all employers.
This is another widely-assumed misconception, and you should definitely rethink a template. The cover letter should specifically mention the job title several times and should be written specifically for a particular employer. Using a “template cover letter” minimizes your chances of standing out among the crowd, and no matter how well-written the template might be, your prospective employer will know. You might use specific sentences in several different cover letters, but the entire letter should not be the same for every employer.
Cover Letter Myth #3: Your cover letter should never be longer than one or two paragraphs.
While your cover letter shouldn’t be a novel – one page is usually sufficient – sending a one- or two-paragraph cover letter signifies that you don’t have much to convey. Instead, use colorful language to express why you are right for the position, and elaborate upon experiences you have had that make you a prime candidate. If it’s too short, the employer is going to think that you don’t have much going for you.
Cover Letter Myth #4: Handwritten cover letters are acceptable — even preferrable.
This is definitely not true. While employers might have found handwritten cover letters acceptable twenty years ago, it is no longer fashionable to do anything but type your cover letter. And don’t think that your handwritten approach will make you seem more personable; it will simply mark you as an amateur who doesn’t care enough to print out a typed copy.
Cover Letter Myth #5: Cover letters should include salary information.
Some people mistakenly believe that they should disclose everything in the cover letter, including their salary histories and expectations. This is not a good idea. You don’t want to give the employer a reason to discard your resume from the very beginning; wait until you are in his or her presence before discussing compensation in any light. If the job advertisement requests salary requirements, simply write that compensation is negotiable and that you’re happy to entertain offers.