Why have a cover letter?
A cover letter is important for expanding on experiences listed on your resume, sharing some of your greatest career and life achievements. It allows you to provide the employer with more details on who you are. This is an opportunity to use your voice and add a personal touch to your application. The purpose of writing a cover letter is so that the recruiter can see your personality, context behind achievements and experiences, and motivation for applying to the job.
While your resume is meant to lay out the facts, your cover letter’s purpose is to convey more personality. You want your it to be as positively memorable as possible, as it is your first introduction and impression to the company to which you are applying. Each cover letters should be unique to the positions you are applying to – do not use the same letter for each application.
Tip: Though there is no “official” format for a cover letter, the format should always match the company and industry you’re applying to! Do some investigating on which format is best for you. Just make sure it is visually organized and the information is orderly.
What should I include in my letter?
When beginning to write your cover letter, it is best to plan out the content of the letter based on the job requirements which you are applying for. A successful cover letter might go something like this:
- Memorable Introduction
- Specific, organized examples of relevant work done and problems solved
- Concise conclusion with a call to action
The goal is to prove you are qualified for the job by telling stories that demonstrate your skills and experience, however you shouldn’t try to fit your whole career into one cover letter. Carefully select stories that tell the employer who you are and how you can add value to their company.
In a survey by the Society for Human Resources, they concluded that the three most important things to include in your cover letter are:
- How the candidate’s work experiences meet the job requirements
- How the candidate’s skills meet the job requirements
- Why the candidate wants to work at the organization
Including these three things will help you convince the hiring manager why you are the right person for the job. You should be using the job requirements to guide you in what experiences, skills, and motivations you choose to share. When writing about these three criteria, use these tips to effectively convey your message:
- Give your letter a unique visual format
- Pick an appropriate voice and tone
- Address the recruiter or hiring manager by name
- Show how you can solve specific problems
- Tell a compelling story
- Honesty is the only policy
- Don’t sound like everyone else
- End with a call to action
- Proof your letter
To end your resume with a call to action, leave it polite and open ended. End with a reason for them to contact you. Suggest that you are excited to offer more information and you are looking forward to talking with them.
What should I leave off of my letter?
Remember that the recruiter may be reading hundreds of resumes, so avoid using generic and overused expressions like, “Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume” or “I believe that my skill set makes me a great fit for the job.” Though these phrases won’t hurt your chances of getting the job, they will not make you stand out amongst hundreds of other applicants.
Here are some more generic and overused phrases to avoid using in your cover letter:
- To whom it may concern
- Please feel free to
- Self-starter, detail oriented
- Game-changer, forward-thinker
How do I submit my cover letter?
Be specific, not generic! Try your best to find a name to address on your cover letter, this makes it feel more personal. Another tip is to match the heading on your cover letter to the heading on your resume. You should be visually consistent in all of your job documents – font, style, print, etc.
After proofreading and re-proofreading your cover letter, you should submit it as soon as possible. You do not want to waste time allowing more and more candidates to grab the attention of the hiring manager. Always follow the submission instructions in the job description for submitting your cover letter. Make sure there are no formatting errors if you are submitting through a website’s fillable field.
For examples of attention-grabbing cover letters visit https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/9-attention-grabbing-cover-letter-examples/ .