Cover letters can be a challenge for older workers. You want to make sure you don't look old in your letter, but you also need to highlight your skills and experience. Writing an effective cover letter today is an art. The following explains exactly how to avoid looking old in your cover letter so you can get the interview.
Avoid Repeating Your Resume
To build an effective cover letter, it is important to remember the point of a cover letter. It is not your resume. Instead, the cover letter is a one-page document that summarizes your resume and explains why you are applying to this particular job. It should provide an overview of why you are a fit for the job. Your cover letter should reference details from your resume, but not merely repeat them. Instead, the point of the cover letter is to tell the story behind your resume.
Stop Focusing on Time Served
The fact that you have a wealth of experience is great. But, it is your results and skills used over the years that are relevant - not merely the fact that you have years of experience. Remember that the fact that someone has done something for a long time does not mean that they are good at what they do.
And, the fact that you have a lot of experience can make you look overqualified or set in your ways. So, avoid merely stating that you have so many years of experience. Instead, focus on the skills and results they have achieved in various roles, rather than their length of time served.
Use Keywords from the Job Posting
When an employer writes a job posting, they are looking for specific skills and qualities. Therefore, it is important to use the same keywords in your cover letter. This will show that you have the skills and qualities they are looking for.
To find the keywords, look for action verbs in the job posting. These are usually words like "developed," "managed," "created," etc. Then, use these same words in your cover letter to describe your experience. This will make it clear that you have the skills they are looking for.
Don't Use an Outdated Email Address
Your email address says a lot about you. And, using an outdated email address can make you look old. This could be the provider (i.e. hotmail, yahoo, etc.) or the style of the email address (i.e. johndoe firstname.lastname@example.org).
Avoid aging yourself before the person even skims your cover letter. For many older workers, this can mean creating a new email address just for use in their job search. Doing so will keep your message current and prevent spam from going in your personal inbox. It will also help to show that you are adaptable to new trends. In turn, this can make you stand out.
Focus on the Relevant Experience
The key to building an effective cover letter at any stage of your career is to keep the message focused on your audience. This means identifying the big reasons why you want this job at this company and how your prior experience positions you for success.
Pick a few big talking points from your resume. Connect these examples or results to the job or company that you are applying to now. Make it easy for the person skimming your cover letter to see how you fit the need.
This could be prior experience in the industry, relationships, or using the tools to complete a similar project at another organization. Whatever it may be, make it easy for the person to see you in their opening by keeping the message clear and to the point. This will help the employer see that you are the right fit for this job and not just another older worker.
Target Your Message
Recruiters will expect a specific cover letter at a certain level. This means that you cannot use a generic letter if you are looking to be a leader or are pursuing a senior level role. Instead, you will need to build a specific cover letter for the jobs and company that you are applying to.
This can mean focusing on your connections with the organization. To do this, you could connect the dots by talking about your prior experiences with the organization. Or, you could talk about your experience competing against the organization at its competitor. This direct connection and clarity in your knowledge and interest with the organization is key to standing out.
Another strategy to target your message is to use the insights gained from your research or networking in the cover letter. Tell the recruiter skimming your cover letter what you know about the organization and how this makes you qualified for the role. Do not merely drop names, but explain what insights you have and how that qualifies you for the role. Remember, the person skimming the cover letter is making decisions about a potential coworker and needs to like the person.
Grammatical errors or typos in your cover letter will kill your application. The best way to avoid these mistakes and to show your ability to use technology properly is to use it. Make sure to turn on the spelling and grammar checks.
You should also review the recommendations of these tools to make sure they are accurate. Technology isn't perfect, so you will need to use some old-school spelling and grammar knowledge to make sure that you are presenting your best self in the cover letter.
Prepare to Apply Online
Gone are the days of in-person applications. Instead, you will need to submit your applications online through the applicant tracking systems (ATS) or through the job boards.
This is true even if you are leveraging your professional network for introductions at the company. At some point, everyone will go through the HR processes and technology. So, make sure that your cover letter and resume are ready to go for the ATS.
By following these tips, you can make sure your cover letter doesn't hold you back. Instead, it will help you get the interview and show that you are the right fit for the job. So, don't let your age stop you from writing an effective cover letter. Use these tips to create a cover letter that makes you look current and qualified for the jobs that you are applying for now.