Face facts: Some people will never read your cover letter. The rest of the people may trash your resume if it does not include a cover letter. Others will value the cover letter over all other application materials. Since you can't know for sure which type of employer or recruiter will receive and review your materials, assume the cover letter is a crucial piece of your application package.
Don't make these 13 cover letter mistakes and you will be ahead of the game:
1. Forgetting to include a cover letter.
For reasons noted, the cover letter is important, especially if the job description requests it. When you leave it off, you may look lazy (at best) or appear to be someone who cannot follow instructions (at worst).
2. Addressing your cover letter generically.
"Dear Sir" is totally out of the question, since it is sexist and "To whom it may concern" makes it clear that you didn't think it was important enough to try to identify the person in charge of the search. It may be difficult to identify the correct person to address your letter, but you should try. Make a valiant effort to identify a name to include. Contact the company to ask for the correct name and use your Internet research skills to see if you can confirm a specific person to send your letter. As a very last resort, "Dear Hiring Manager" may not keep you totally out of the running, especially if the company has gone to great lengths to shield the exact name from the applicant pool.
3. Adding your cover letter as an attachment and writing a brief note in the body of the email.
If you apply via email, include your cover letter's contents as the body of the email you send. That way, it is very easy for the hiring manager to decide whether to open your attached resume or press delete.
More:Are These Resume Buzzwords Killing Your Chances?4. Sending a boring or terse cover letter.
If you're going to include a letter, it might as well be good enough to give you a better chance to land the job. If you send a formulaic sounding letter with nothing more interesting than the fact that you are applying for job No. 123 and that you saw the ad in XYZ.com, you won't pass the cover letter test for those sticklers who demand a cover letter. Make sure you write a letter that is interesting enough to read.
5. Missing an opportunity to make a great connection or to tell an interesting story.
Not everyone has a great story or reason for applying for a position, but if you do, use the cover letter to tell it. Was it the company where you launched your career, and you are ready to come back? Say so. Did you always admire the organization's television ads growing up, and now you are applying to help create new ones? That's a great story, and the cover letter is the place to share it.
6. Being self-centered.
The cover letter should not be a note detailing what you want. If you appear self-centered, that delete key is always handy.
7. Including errors or typos in your letter.
This is the kiss of death for many job application materials. Even if the job does not require you to wax eloquent regularly or to or create written materials for the company, if you misspell words or send a letter with typos and grammatical errors, it's a mark against you in a competitive field. Edit your own note carefully and ask a trusted friend to review it. Read it out loud to be sure you haven't left off words or made a typo that spell-check doesn't pick up -- for example, if you've said, "I'd be a terrific manger" instead of "manager."
More:3 Cover Letter Myths You Shouldn't Believe8. Not targeting your letter.
Just as you should target your resume for every job so you're most likely to pass the company's computerized resume screening system, you should also target your cover letter to each position and organization. Include specifics about the company and describe why you are a good fit for their job. Use the job description and information you can find out about the job and organization online to choose the best details to include. If you send the same cover letter to every company, you are missing an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
9. Writing a novel.
No one needs a three-page cover letter, no matter how interesting or perfect the candidate may be for the job. Just as you don't want to be too terse, don't think you need to tell your life story. Write the equivalent of about one typed page at most.
10. Using the cover letter to repeat everything in the resume.
While you should make sure to include everything important in your resume (in case this hiring manager does not read cover letters), don't just summarize your resume in your cover letter. Take the opportunity to make direct connections between the job description and your skills. Consider creating three headlines based on information in the job description the employer wants and listing under each topic why you are a good fit. The more you can make a direct correlation between their needs and what you offer, the better your letter will be.
More:Using The Right Keywords On Your Resume Will Be Very Important In 201311. Exaggerating.
Don't say, "I'm perfect for the job" if you know you are not. Be honest in your cover letter and identify the best matches between your skills and their needs.
12. Being too humble.
The opposite of the braggart, who is "ideal" for every job, the overly humble job seeker may actually apologize for applying and explain the skills he or she does not have for the job. Hopefully, it's obvious why the "why I'm not qualified" strategy is less than optimal! You may be applying for jobs that are a reach, and when you do, focus on what makes you a good fit and don't dwell on the negatives.
13. Going overboard with the sell.
Unless you are actually applying for a sales job, think twice before including language such as, "I'll call you on Friday to schedule an interview." This may be a turnoff for some hiring managers. Is it appropriate to indicate that you hope they agree you're a good match and that you will follow up as of a certain date, but you could lose the interviewer's attention if you act as if you are in charge of the process.
Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now
Join AOL Jobs on Facebook | Follow AOL Jobs on Twitter | Follow AOL Jobs on LinkedIn
Sign up for our e-mail newsletter so you'll always know what's happening on AOL Jobs.
More From Keppie Careers
Looking for a job? Click here to get started.
Sample Architecture Cover Letter
Here is a sample cover letter that you can use as a starting point. However, remember you are selling your unique story.
UPDATE FROM BRANDON 3/7/2017:
Hi there, just a quick note before you read the example. Since this article has become very popular (#1 on Google) I have seen many word-for-word copies of this architecture cover letter in a lot of applications. I don't mind it being copied but you are doing yourself a disservice because all of the hiring managers know about this article. "Here is another Brandon cover letter". Please just use this as a reference for you own voice and experience. Thanks!
This is a business letter so use formal block formatting (not indented) paragraphs. Don't forget to include your contact information in the header or footer. Just email and phone number are acceptable, your mailing address is not necessary.
Download the example documents for a formatted sample.
[insert your contact information in header or footer]
October 12, 2015
Mr. Chris Anderson
145 Main Street
Boston, MA 02108
Dear Mr. Anderson:
With this letter, I wish to express my strong interest in working with ABC Architects as a Junior Designer. After three years in design and construction, I believe I would bring several areas of competence to ABC Architects. My resume detailing my professional background is enclosed for your review and consideration.
In my current position, I manage a team of designers and coordinate various consultants and work streams under demanding deadlines. I have contributed to the design of numerous high-rise projects including the First Bank Tower in New York and the Finance Office HQ in Dallas.
Through these and other projects detailed in my resume I am experienced with building materials and systems, sustainability techniques and construction administration on complex projects. I have extensive experience with a broad range of design and management software including AutoCAD, Sketchup, Revit, 3DS Max and Adobe Suite.
I would very much like to speak with you about the designer opportunities and the ways you can utilize my expertise. Please expect my call on Thursday, October 15th to arrange a convenient time to discuss. I look forward to speaking with you about this opportunity.
James M. Smith
[insert your contact information in header or footer]
Notice it does not say, “I look forward to hearing from you” or “Please call me at your earliest convenience.” You need to be firm and show initiative at this stage.
Submitting the cover letter
There are generally three ways to submit your cover letter:
2. Website submission
3. Mailed hard copy
I generally recommend you include the cover letter in the body of the message if you are applying by email. By keeping the cover letter as part of the email it takes out one step from clicking on two or three separate attachments (cover letter, resume, and sample portfolio.)
There are several options in submitting your application by email, I will have a look at these options and discuss the pros and cons of each method.
Here are the three main “ingredients” of your application
1. Cover letter
3. Sample Portfolio
Option 1: Cover letter in body of email, resume and portfolio attached separately
- Makes it more likely the recipient will read your cover letter if it is just included in the email as opposed to opening the cover letter attachment.
- Keeps the resume and sample portfolio separate so the formatting can be different.
- Makes the package more interesting instead of opening the attachment and seeing a letter, instead of a portfolio image or a well formatted resume.
- The above benefit of the resume and portfolio separate could also be a disadvantage because it creates two separate attachments, increasing the chance they won’t both be opened.
Option 2: Cover letter, resume and portfolio attached separately
- Allows different formatting for each document.
- Allows the hiring manager to skip to whichever document he or she is looking for.
- More things to open and/or lose
Option 3: Cover letter, resume and portfolio combined into one attachment
- Easier to keep track of just one document, but if this email does not include a compelling email body cover letter then the attachment may not be opened at all.
- If you also include the cover letter in the email body AND the attachment it appears redundant when you read the email then open the pdf. This can make it a little trickier if you have different formatting between the three documents, from portrait to landscape for example. However it can make it a little easier for the hiring manager to print or forward if it is all-in-one document.
Some of the large architecture offices will have application submissions on their website. For cover letters in this situation there are generally two options:
1. Attaching a pdf cover letter
Always go with this option first. If they only offer a cover letter text box then that becomes a formatting issue.
2. A text only box
This is usually a plain text box that does not allow formatting, you need to have your cover letter formatted for both html and plain text when applying so they are both clearly readable.
Mailed hard copy
I generally don't recommend submitting hard copies of your applications. However, if you insist on snail mail be sure to print your cover letter on quality white bond paper (that matches your resume) and sign it.
You may want to send it in a waterproof envelope to reduce the chance of it getting wet.
I hope you found this information on architecture cover letters helpful for your next application.
Want to find your dream architecture job?
Check out The Architect's Guide Resources.
To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download: