Six Cover Letter Tips
You may be asking yourself if you still need a cover letter today. Cover letters are still very important and are usually the first introduction you’ll have to a company. According to a study conducted by Robert Half 2018, 90% of executives say that writing a cover letter is valuable. A well-written cover letter can help you stand out from the crowd, whereas a poorly-written cover letter, that appears like a copy and paste that you sent to all employers, can hurt your chances for an interview. This article will outline six key elements of a writing an effective cover letter to help you stand out.
Identify the Hiring Manager
Glassdoor (2017) demonstrated that the average corporate job opening receives more than 250 resumes. It’s way too common for applicants to blanketly apply through the various job boards and company websites without giving any effort to try and find the contact person. Taking the time to get personal and identify the decision maker (hiring manager) will make you stand out from the masses of applicants who address the cover letter by simply writing “to whom it may concern.” The extra little effort required to locate the decision maker and address the cover letter to them specifically will pay off in spades.
Tailor the Cover Letter
In addition to addressing the cover letter to the hiring manager, you should tailor the cover letter to the specific position you’re applying for. Be sure to include the relevant keywords and highlight exactly why you’re qualified for the position. You can use the most relevant achievements from your resume or include new accomplishments that are tailored for the position. This customization will clearly separate you from the candidates who use a generic cover letter that they use for every position they applied for.
Showcase Your Value
Just like you resume, you want your cover letter to showcase your value and immediately indicate why you would be a great fit for the specific job you are applying. An easy way to achieve this is with a concise opening paragraph followed by a few bullets with your relevant achievements that are applicable to the position. Remember that employers want to know about your previous contributions and how you are going to make a significant difference at their company.
Clearly Indicate Why You’re Interested
One of the most common interview questions asked from hiring managers is “why do you want to work for us?” Your cover letter gives you the chance to include this information unlike your resume. You should be very specific on exactly why you want to work for the company. For example, you may have seen the company’s new product release that you want to be involved with. Perhaps you’ve been following the company’s social media channels and constantly read about the positive culture of the organization where you would be a great fit. Make every company and unique position that you apply for feel as if it’s the only one you’re considering.
Keep it Concise
LinkedIn (2017) conducted a detailed study of hiring managers and discovered that the average recruiter spends only 6-seconds reviewing a resume! Knowing this, you can count on recruiters spending less time reviewing your cover letter. Your cover letter needs to be concise and always less than one-page. Avoid using lengthy paragraphs with too much information. Instead, use very concise bullet points that are easy to read and can quickly showcase your skills and qualifications for the position.
There is no excuse for submitting a cover letter (along with your resume) to a job that contains spelling and grammatical errors. Although most people will use Microsoft Word or a similar word processing program with spell checkers, you still need to proofread your cover letter to guarantee that it didn’t miss anything. The spell checker won’t be able to properly review things such as specific company names, products, positions, etc., where an egregious spelling error can cost you the position. Finally, be sure to proofread for any grammatical errors that a writing program could easily miss. Mixing up homophones (words that sound alike but are different) is an easy error to miss. You may have listed “your” when you should have listed “you’re.” Finally, be certain to spell the hiring manager’s name correctly that you are addressing the cover letter to since a spell checker will not be able to catch this.
The purpose of the cover letter is to get the recruiter to read your resume and hopefully lead to being invited for an interview. A study conducted by Careerbuilder (2015) highlighted that 49% of employers wanted job seekers to include a cover letter for the position they’re applying for. Remember to 1) identify the hiring manager, 2) tailor the cover letter for each position, 3) showcase your value, 4) clearly indicate why you’re interested, 5) keep it concise, and 6) proofread it for consistency and to avoid any spelling/grammatical errors. Cover letters are still important today and will be for the foreseeable future.