Quick Tips for Better Cover Letters
A cover letter isn’t just a note saying “I’ve attached my resume.” It’s an opportunity for you to get the employer’s attention and tell them enough about your qualifications and past accomplishments to make them want to read your resume and schedule an interview.
Generic cover letters are boring and likely to be ignored or glossed over. If you want to grab the attention of the person reading the letter, you’ll need to write a personalized letter that details briefly what exactly you can do for the company.
If you’ve had little interest from employers so far in your job search, a lousy cover letter may be to blame. Use the following tips to move away from generic letters you find on the internet, and towards a letter that shows your potential employers that you’ll be a valuable asset to their organization, with a unique set of skills.
Don’t Use a Generic Greeting
The person who’s (hopefully) going to read your email is a human being, and human beings love being recognized as unique individuals. Instead of “Dear employer” or “To Whom It May Concern,” find the name and job title of the person most likely to be conducting interviews, and address it to them personally. If you were screening 300 resumes and noticed one candidate took the time to find out who you are, wouldn’t you be more interested in talking to them?
Name-Drop If You’ve Got a Contact on the Inside
If you know someone at the company who will be a reference for you or someone is recommending you for the job, mention this as early in the cover letter as possible without it sounding unnatural. The person reading your cover letter isn’t going to be looking at it for more than a minute, but there’s a better chance of them giving it attention if they know early on you’re connected to someone who works with the company. Openers like “John Smith suggested I send you my resume.” or “Jane Doe mentioned you’re hiring for a new project manager.” will get your foot in the door.
Be Specific About What You Bring to the Table
Emphasize how your skills and background will meet the employer’s needs. Quantify your past experiences; how much money did you save the last employer? Think in specifics and numbers. Percentages and dollar amounts are more impressive than vague statements. If you helped your previous company secure 50 new accounts, this is the time to brag (just a little) about it.
Don’t just copy/paste information already on your resume. Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to put that information into context for the reader. Four of the most important skills for a candidate to have are clear communication, problem-solving, leadership qualities and the ability to organize. Include examples of when you’ve used these skills in the past to benefit former employers.
Show Genuine Interest in the Company
Research the company you’re applying to and mention what you’ve learned in your cover letter. Employers are more likely to hire someone who’s already familiar with their company’s goals. Would you rather hire someone with a generic cover letter or a person who is committed enough to research the company’s services or products and explain to you how they can help improve them?
Ending the Cover Letter
Tell them you’ll follow up with a phone call in a week. Employers are more likely to respond if they know you’re going to be calling them in the future. Include your email address and phone number at the bottom of your cover letter. It pays to make it as easy as possible for them to find your contact information.
Proofread Like Your Career Depends on It
Typos in your cover letter will kill your chances of being considered for the position. Companies aren’t interested in hiring people who make sloppy mistakes. Having obvious errors in your cover letter makes you look like a person who doesn’t care about doing a good job. Ask a friend or relative to read it over too, as they may catch spelling or grammar mistakes that you missed while proofreading.
It may take a little extra time to write a real cover letter instead of copy and pasting the first one you find online, but making a good first impression when applying for a position is an investment worth making if you want to beat out the competition.
Take it from TierPM Recruiter, Tekeiya Jordan, who recently tweeted about the importance of a cover letter:
Great question! Something so simple that in my opinion that’s overlooked is a cover letter for your resume! I don’t often see those as I review resumes. Something so simple that may help you out a lot!!
— Tekeiya Jordan (@KeiyaAV) August 2, 2019
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