Many people think that in this day and age sending a cover letter is pointless. Some are convinced that their resume already contains all the necessary credentials. Others infer that HR’s are too swamped with applications to read any cover letters at all.
However, even though you never know whether the cover letter you have carefully crafted will end up being read, you should write and send it every time. Why? Because most Hiring Managers will give your application bonus points just for submitting one. After all, the fact that you took the time to write a cover letter demonstrates your motivation, initiative and genuine interest in the position. And if actually read, an effective letter will set you well apart from other candidates.
So don’t forgo a chance to get bumped to the top of the employer’s list and follow these five useful tips to take your cover letter from passable to powerful:
1. Be focused
The cover letter gives you a perfect chance to state your case and present yourself as the best possible candidate for the position. Take advantage of this opportunity to demonstrate your professional value. Tell the HR what makes you better than others. Do you have any accomplishments you’re proud of? What can you do for your potential employer?
And in case you were wondering: yes, that means you write a different cover letter in response to each job posting you apply for. You can either create a general template and add relevant details for every application you send out, or have a long comprehensive version of a cover letter ready, deleting unnecessary facts to suit each vacancy.
2. Don’t repeat the resume
If you do, you’ll waste your own and the HR’s precious time. Your goal is to reinforce the facts and figures you’ve put on your resume, adding some “juice” to mere words and numbers. People love stories, they get invested in the narrative, so do your best to tell a compelling tale that the recruiter will be interested to read. Specify, quantify, and take full advantage of the SOAR method (situation or opportunity, action and results).
3. Be concise
These days people scan even short texts, such as news articles and blog posts, before deciding whether or not they are worth reading in full. I bet even you find yourself doing the same. Remember, no one will bother reading an autobiographical novel that you send in lieu of a targeted cover letter. So keep things short and simple (and I mean no more than one page). And don’t waste valuable real estate by mentioning details that have nothing to do with the value you can bring to the advertised position.
4. No negative talk
Your cover letter is essentially your marketing brochure. You don’t see ads going on and on about product deficiencies, imperfections and malfunctions, right? Adopt a similar strategy and avoid diving into the abyss of self-depreciation. Either omit negative statements altogether, or, if you really need to mention that you don’t know some software or a certain procedure, put a positive, hopeful spin on it.
5. No arrogance
Be careful not to run to another extreme and make sure you don’t come off as someone who thinks they are better than others. Don’t overestimate your knowledge and abilities either – if you’re hired, the truth will soon be revealed. Be confident and open to communication, but never pretentious or snobbish, and you’ll do just fine.
Do you usually send cover letters along with your resumes? Do you target each letter or have a “one size fits all” version? Got any special tips and tricks you use? Share your experiences in our comment section!