If you want to stand out from the pack, you shouldn’t write a good cover letter — you should write an outstanding cover letter. You don’t want human resources to think you just cut-and-pasted what was on your resume onto the cover letter.
Unfortunately, many cover letters are far from unique. Due to their unoriginality, most of them end up getting looked over. And do you blame hiring managers? It’s hard to imagine someone is well-qualified for a job if they don’t go the extra mile on their application letter.
But get this: with a small amount of time and just a bit of effort, you can write a letter that lands you a job interview.
Here are a few tips on how to write a cover letter:
Your resume is the main place to outline your education and work experience. While it’s okay to mention them in your cover letter, you should use this space to highlight some of your skills.
Focusing on your skills is especially crucial if you’re a new professional. After all, hiring managers want to know why you’re the best candidate for the job. Think about how your experience aligns with the position you want. Use what you’ve learned from school and other jobs to explain why you’re the best fit for the role.
Highlight some of the projects you’ve worked on and the experiences you’ve gathered over time. Mention some of your best skills and discuss how they’ll lend themselves to the job in question. This can go a long way in a cover letter.
In your cover letter, you have the opportunity to discuss your vision for the future. What skills do you want to learn over the next few years? How do you see yourself progressing from this point, and why is working for this particular company a good step in your career?
When a company hires someone, they’re usually not looking for a short-term employee. They want a team member who plans to stick around for a while and contribute to the company’s mission.
So, you should make a point to talk about your goals and the things you want to learn. Then, explain why working for this employer will help you achieve those goals.
No one likes reading a “boring” cover letter. That’s precisely why you should liven things up with your incredible personality!
However, there is a fine line here. Don’t come on too strong. Otherwise, the hiring manager may think you’re not taking the application seriously. Yet, you don’t want to sound like a personality-less robot. We all know that won’t work, either.
Yes, it’s hard to find the perfect voice for your cover letter, but don’t get discouraged yet. The best way to incorporate your personality is showing the company you’re passionate about the position. Showing you’re enthusiastic about the job will make your cover letter shine.
Don’t overdo it by using too much “flowery” language. But, do your best to use bold words that convey your ambition while engaging your audience.
Numbers speak volumes. If you have any impressive sales figures or job performance numbers to boast about, include some of them.
Of course, you don’t want to go too crazy. Your cover letter should include just enough numbers to impress your reader without looking like a page of The Financial Times. One or two impressive stats should be fine.
And don’t lie, either. There’s a good chance that your hiring manager will verify these numbers with your previous employer. If they find out that you’re inflating your stats, it won’t do you any good.
You may or may not know who to address the letter to. If you don’t, do your best to figure it out.
Review the job listing and look for a name. If you can’t find one, call the company and ask who is hiring. Let the receptionist know that you want to address the right person, and they should be happy to give you the hirer’s name.
In some cases, the hiring manager’s gender might not be apparent. If their name is Morgan or Jordan, for example, they could be a woman or a man. Don’t guess, because you could be wrong.
A hiring manager won’t be too happy if you call him a her or vice versa. If you’re uncertain, look the person up on LinkedIn. Their social media profile will reveal whether they are a man or a woman.
It always looks better to address the hiring manager directly. But if your detective work leads nowhere, that’s okay. There are a few broad descriptions you can use. Dear Hiring Manager (or something more specific such as Dear Software Team Hiring Manager) will work fine.
Don’t toss a letter together 30 minutes before you submit your application. Take some time to craft a careful and customized letter for each application.
I know it’s a pain to write a personalized cover letter for every job application, but it’ll pay off. Hiring managers will appreciate that you’ve done your research and crafted a letter specifically for them.
To save time, you can write a template to work from. Then, you can make slight changes for each potential employer. It’s vital to put some effort into the letter. The quality of your cover letter could be the deciding factor of whether you get a job interview or not.
Whatever you do, don’t slap together a cover letter just to get it out of the way. Taking the time to write a solid cover letter can give you a huge leg up on your competitors.
When it comes to the length of a cover letter, less is always more. But that doesn’t mean it should only be a few sentences long. Instead, make your cover letter around three to four paragraphs long, with four to five sentences in each section.
If you find the letter is getting too long, work on shortening it.
You want to get to the point in your letter without making it too fluffy. Highlight your skills and personalize it in a concise manner. Keep it short and to the point while addressing all of the main issues.
Now that you’ve read these tips on writing the perfect cover letter, it’s time to hop to it! Don’t feel like you have to write your letter all in one sitting. It’s okay to step away from your desk and think about it for a while.
If you happen to write it in one day, wait until tomorrow to read over it again. At that point, you’ll be able to revise it with a fresh set of eyes. There are always ways to improve your cover letter. Customize it to fit each type of job you apply for in the future.
Before you know it, you’ll be preparing for job interviews. Now get out there and make it happen!
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