Writing Cover Letters that Count
Despite what you may think, it is a well-written cover letter – not your resume – that will single-handedly increase your potential for more job interviews. Yes, they do get read, and often, the cover letter will determine if your CV commands consideration.
The way you present yourself in a cover letter is a crucial component of marketing yourself. While your resume should speak for itself, it doesn’t give an opportunity to put your best foot forward, demonstrate that you understand the position, and distinguish your intellect with a personal, high-quality sample of writing. A proper cover letter will accomplish all of the above.
It’s important to put considerable effort into composing any cover letter. The hiring entity will be looking for evidence of research and how you promote yourself as a fit for the organization.
Start by determining who will be reviewing your application. Learn this person’s name and address your cover letter to them. Review the company website – work to understand the tone, language and culture of the organization and mirror words when describing how and why you would make a good fit.
Furthermore, be creative with your opening line. Don’t be overly formal: be someone that is likable, down-to-earth and approachable. When you tailor your words to what the reader can relate to, it gets them excited about you, and it immediately establishes a basis for positive communication.
Go the Extra Mile
Stock cover letters that you mass distribute won’t get you far. Generic content becomes irrelevant to the reader making your application less valuable and potentially affecting your candidacy.
While you may not love the idea of composing a unique cover letter for each job you apply to, it will give you a bigger return. Before selecting words showcasing your enthusiasm and skills, you must first determine the key requirements and priorities for this job. Then, make it clear that you can deliver on what they seek. Focus on what you can do for an organization, how they can benefit from you being hired and relate your value to their organization with balance, creativity, and clarity.
In your cover letter, make sure to address any questions or concerns that could potentially come up in an interview – such as your work history. It is critical to be upfront and honest if there is anything you will need to disclose. However, it is not necessary for you to apologize for the skills you don’t have. Instead, focus on the skills you do have by highlighting these experiences and strengths that correspond with a potential opportunity. Keep your letter focused, concise and a few paragraphs in length.
Setting yourself apart from other applicants can be done by including some tangible assets. The object is to provide content that promotes further discussion.
Do you have financial wins for the company that you currently work for, and can you illustrate the impact it had on your employer? Do you have evidence of improving processes in your work history, and can that experience apply to this new role? Can you integrate a positive quote from a previous or current employer as evidence of your passion for your area of expertise? Often missed in a cover letter is your ability and willingness to relocate; if the position requires you to move, say so upfront.
In closing your cover letter, don’t be passive about showing interest. Include a “call to action”. Say that you’d love to meet the team and give specific times and dates that you are available.
Thank the hiring manager for their time and consideration, and always mention that you look forward to meeting in person. Approach the closing as if you have already landed your interview and are conducting a friendly exchange in preparation for showcasing your talent and viability.
Consider the Impact
Thinking about skipping the cover letter when applying for an internal position?
Don’t. Use the cover letter to show how much you have already accomplished in your current position and that you understand your employer’s vision for their new role.
Ultimately, the purpose of writing an outstanding cover letter is to open all doors, put you ahead of other applicants and give you the competitive advantage when it comes to the hiring process. Make sure you optimize this important item that could stand between you and the perfect job.