Summary: Cover letters are considered an essential part of a job application. Skipping it or not putting effort into it can sink your application.
Many job seekers don’t view cover letters as an important part of their application, but hiring managers consider them as part of the application. Not completing a cover letter is like turning in an incomplete application to the company. Do your best to make your cover letter a strong part of your application, increasing your chances of securing an interview. Do these 4 things to make your cover letter stand out in a good way to an employer.
1. Customize It
Each cover letter needs to be customized to the job you are applying to. A generic cover letter is just that, generic. The hiring manager or person reading the cover letter will see that it is generic and that you did not put a strong effort into it. They see this as a representation of who you are as a person – generic and lazy. No company wants to hire someone like this, regardless of the qualifications you bring to the table. Companies want to see candidates that dive into the company with exciting ideas and hard work.
Part of customizing a cover letter is to research the company so you can address it to the actual person who will be reading the letter instead of addressing it as a generic “To Whom it May Concern.” Hopefully, the job posting includes a name but if not, call the company and ask. Your research should show the reader that you know what the company is all about. Specifically, address how you can affect their profits/sales/costs for the better. You should also be able to mention why the company is special or more unique than others that are similar.
2. Get Specific
Start strong with an introduction that keeps the person reading the cover letter reading. A dull introduction will put your cover letter in the trash pile. Pick out keywords from the job description to include in your cover letter. This should include the skills the company is looking for. Take those skills and show how you have those skills through numbers. Just remember to do all of this quickly and in as few words as possible.
While you are likely taking a lot of the information from your resume to put in your cover letter, you don’t want to duplicate it. A cover letter should complement the resume. This is an opportunity to brag about yourself and your accomplishments. Your bragging should be tactful and conversational so that you can show the reader you have a great personality that is easy to work with and have great achievements.
3. Include Your Contact Information
Your cover letter should be so amazing that the hiring manager wants to immediately pick up their phone and call you once they have finished reading it. The last paragraph should include your contact information so they can easily contact you.
4. Check the Format and Design
Using sloppy formatting makes you look sloppy and lazy. This includes doing a scrupulous check of the spelling. When you are done with the cover letter, save and send it as a PDF to ensure that the formatting does not get jumbled when the viewer opens the file on their computer. A PDF also makes it so the information cannot be changed or erased on the cover letter.
To learn more about writing a cover letter, read these articles:
- Build a Cover Letter Fit for the Job
- 10 Filler Words to Remove from Your Resume and Cover Letter Now
- Three Types of Cover Letters to Write
Photo: flickr.com4 Ways to Ensure Your Cover Letter Gets You an Interview by Amanda Griffin