Whether you’re testing the waters or actively looking for your next career move, knowing how to structure your cover letter will get you noticed.
Your cover letter is an opportunity to highlight what you bring to the table in your professional capacity. It tells the person reading it who you are, where you come from, and why you think that you’re the ideal candidate for the position.
Personalization will go a long way in this letter, so be sure to put in the effort and include the key features and characteristics that relate to the role you’re applying for. Even if you have an impressive resume, your cover letter needs to stand out too.
Surely A Resume Is Sufficient?
Unless a recruiter or potential employer specifically tells you to leave out a cover letter, you should include one with every job application.
You may think that your resume speaks for itself, but what it doesn’t do is speak about who you are as a person. Your resume lists your skills and achievements, while the cover letter shares the story behind it all. Of course, keeping this as short as possible while conveying all the relevant information is key. Try not to duplicate the content of your resume, rather try to support it.
When writing your cover letter, follow these six guidelines for the best results:
1. Address A Real Person
If possible, address your cover letter to the person managing the hiring process. It may require some effort to determine who this is, but it will show that you’re willing to take the initiative.
The easiest way to find out who you need to address your cover letter too is by reading the job listing, or visiting the company website. The HR or hiring manager is usually the correct person, but if you are unsure, rather opt for a generic greeting instead.
2. Find Your Hook
When starting your letter, you need to be direct, creative, and unconventional. Show your enthusiasm for the role. Boring “Please find attached…” letters will quickly relegate your application to the bottom of the pile.
Consider your cover letter your elevator pitch, it needs to be able to catch the attention of the person you’re targeting, otherwise you’re just wasting time.
3. Link Your Accomplishments
If you’ve achieved a major milestone or accomplishment in your career, share it in your cover letter – just make sure that it’s relevant to the position.
For example, a story about how you headed a team that achieved record sales is ideal for a marketing position, but it won’t be much help if you’re applying for a role in accounting.
4. Match Your Tone
Match your tone to reflect the culture of the company. More conservative corporate companies will look for formal writing, while creative industries will be on the hunt for those that take a fresh approach to their cover letter.
Do your research into the company’s culture, and make sure that you craft a letter that shows how well you’d fit in.
5. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
If you say that you can do something, then find a way to prove it. Whether you have strong leadership skills or a knack for reaching targets under budget, if you can quantify it, include it. Share real-life examples to give hiring managers an idea of what you’re capable of. Be proud of what you’ve done and share this with your potential employer.
Job hunting is not the time to be modest, you need to market and sell yourself effectively to be noticed. Even if you’ve taken some time off from the job market, highlight this as a positive, and tailor your resume to reflect whatever skills or experience you’ve garnered along the way.
6. Looking To The Future
Tell the hiring manager what you hope to achieve in this position, and why you are looking to take your career in that direction. This is a good way to end off your letter while avoiding the generic “I look forward to your response” closure.
Keep the positive, upbeat momentum going throughout your letter to keep hiring managers interested.
Additional Cover Letter Pointers
- Focus on what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you.
- Keep it personal wherever possible.
- Ask someone to proofread your letter before sending it.
- Read your letter out loud to ensure it makes sense.
- Customize your letter per application.
- Take your time writing your letter and pay attention to detail .
- Research the company before applying.
- Make sure your skills align with the role.
- Include career highlights – but keep it short and sweet, they still need to read your resume.
Marketing Yourself As A Brand
When it comes to looking for new employment opportunities, it’s important to remember that the entire process relies on your ability to market yourself. You need to be able to convince hiring managers that you’re the perfect candidate, and they need you to become a part of their team.
A lot of the time, we believe our resumes are strong enough to speak for themselves, and in many cases that might be. But without an impressive, attention catching cover letter, you run the risk of getting lost in a sea of applications.
Find a way to hook the hiring manager and convince them they need to find out more. Think of your cover letter as a sample of what you can offer. Use it the same way product managers offer samples in-store; if you’re not intrigued from the get-go you’re not likely to try one of the samples, let alone the actual product.
The same can be said for your cover letter, so choose your words wisely.