If you're a job seeker who finds cover letters daunting, you're not alone.
Many career websites say your cover letter is as important as your résumé and a great the way to set yourself apart from other candidates. That thought can make writing your cover letter pretty stressful. The good news is those websites are lying. While submitting a cover letter with your résumé is important because it’s expected and it introduces you to the employer doing the hiring, spending a lot of time or stress on it isn't worth the trouble. Most hiring managers only glance over cover letters. Everything of importance should be in your résumé, so hiring managers and HR professionals mostly look at cover letters to see if you can write in full sentences and proper English.
Here are a few tips for acing your cover letter
The entire point of the cover letter is to introduce yourself to the employer, so have something succinct to say about yourself and what qualities and experience you bring to the job.
Include how you heard about the job
This is particularly important if you have a friend at the company who is referring you for the job.
Personalize your cover letter for each job
This is important because, if you don't, it is very obvious to the hiring manager and a little bit insulting that you didn't think writing something specifically for this job was worth your time. Your cover letter should include the company name and the name of the person doing the hiring, if you have it. Make sure to spell all names correctly or you'll make a very poor first impression.
Check your grammar and spelling throughout the cover letter
Then have a friend or two check your grammar and spelling. Remember: Spell check won't always catch typos, and more than two typos or other errors can often lead to your application being thrown out.
If you find cover letters stressful enough that you avoid even submitting them, you're drastically hurting your chances at landing the job you want. Try using this Word template and just filling in the blanks to start. Then remember to have a friend or two check for errors before you submit your application. Good luck!
Carissa Doshi is a business writer and the president of Gen Y Media Group. She gives career advice and blogs about her experiences on www.carissadoshi.com. You can also follow @CarissaDoshi on Twitter.