Cover letters come across as the cherry on top of every job application. So why do we put more emphasis on our resumes than our cover letters? It seems that the lazy student in all of us doesn’t have the energy to write up a personalized letter for every hiring manager. As a result, some students end up turning to auto-generated cover letters or forgery.
Instead of doing that, read ahead and learn how to craft the perfect cover letter!
What Even Is A Cover Letter?
Without cover letters, you wouldn’t be able to show your identity beyond your resume. They demonstrate interest and show relevant details as opposed to the string of bullet points your resume provides. You have the opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the company, show how you fit their work culture, and elaborate on experiences that would have not made it into your resume.
Always Start Off On the Right Foot
So, what exactly should you include in your cover letter? First and foremost, remove the outdated phrase “To whom it may concern” from your vocabulary. This outdated intro has been replaced by “Dear Hiring Manager.”
Go With Simple But Not Casual
By sticking with this, you can easily avoid the common mistake of being either too formal or informal. Better yet, use their name if you are able to. This allows for a more personalized feel. After all, the person on the other end is just that: a person.
Aim For Brevity
Ensure that you have a short introduction. Include your full name and what drew you to this position. Try your best to stay within a range of five to seven sentences.
Not Just A Part 2 of Your Resume
As for content, do not just mindlessly repeat your resume. Don’t waste the opportunity by reducing your cover letter to things already mentioned. A cover letter provides you the chance to stand out since a resume can’t exactly emphasize your passion for a specific company.
Don’t Just Dive Headfirst
Because determination and passion factor into the hiring process, research the company’s mission statement beforehand “I look for enthusiasm and what the person can add to the work environment,” said Joseph Caruana, former hiring manager and a business professor at Moorpark College. Sure, many people apply to jobs for the sake of having food on the table but recruiters don’t need to know that. “You should put down what interests in you in the position and your soonest availability for when you can start,” said Rigo Ramierez, a councilmember for the city of Stanton. This demonstrates a ready-to-hit-the-ground-running attitude as well as the research you put into the company.
You’re Selling Yourself, Remember That
Don’t think about what opportunities the company will provide you. Show what benefits you’ll provide by highlighting specific experiences that fit with the job posting. Even if your past experiences may seem incongruent with the position, include skills that you learned on the job that translates well even in a new job.
All of Your Experiences Have Value
Maybe working with children taught you how to manage large groups of people or maybe working in retail taught you how to make quick calculations. Don’t write off skills simply because you learned them from working at Chipotle or volunteer tutoring. Any experience will always outweigh zero.
Quality Over Quantity
While you should try making your cover letter informative, keep in mind when writing it that recruiters avoid novel-length cover letters. Strive for clarity and conciseness, and if you know your employment history holds anything that gives them hesitance such as lack of experience, try giving it only brief coverage. “I recommend two paragraphs, nothing more than that, and just focus on your skill set,” said Caroline Fraser, a senior manager at Southern California Edison. Remember, they do not need every minute detail of your life’s story.
You Don’t Have to Disclose Everything
Simply emphasize your strengths as opposed to your weaknesses. Just put your best foot forward and you successfully completed the purpose of the cover letter. Anything negative should be omitted.
Demonstrate Your Uniqueness
In the last portion of your cover letter, you should make a strong case of why the recruiter should select you. Hundreds of applicants besides you apply. On average, a job gets over 100 applicants and only 20 percent of those applicants get to the interview portion. So highlight your selling points and really emphasize what differentiates you from the others. Then, you should close with a “call to action” such as “I look forward to hearing from you” or “I’m excited to discuss how this company is trying to reach X goals.” Maybe start a conversation on how you can help with increasing traffic on their website or ensure a better customer experience for example.
So, I hope you no longer fear the cover letter. Remember: it will help you rather than drag you down!