When applying for jobs, do you ever read descriptions where it asks you to submit a cover letter? While many job seekers may think they’re outdated, a cover letter is a great way to introduce who you are to a hiring manager! Essentially, it is a window showing what you’re about, why you should be hired, and what makes you stand out amongst other candidates.
Your one page letter should express why your skills and experience match up with the job you’re applying for. While it may seem easy to write one, there is an art to creating a good cover letter. Most people will type up cliché-filled paragraphs that just repeat what is already on their resume. So our goal is to make you sound different than everyone else so you can stand out in an employer’s mind.
With that being said, here are six steps on how to write a killer cover letter.
#1: Write an original cover letter (or have a good template!)
Employers want to see an applicant that is truly excited for their position, so it is a good idea to create a fresh, original cover letter for each job you apply to. I know it is easier to copy and paste the same thing from your last application and just change the company name and position, but like a resume it needs to be tailored to that specific job.
While it is OK to reuse a few eye-catching sentences, just make sure your letter isn’t generic. “Dear Mr. Smith, I am excited to apply for the open position at your company.” Using that sends a message that you’re mass applying for every job on Indeed.
If you do struggle with formatting and structure, here are some free templates that will make the process easier.
#2: find out who the hiring manager is
It is important to know who will be the one reading the cover letter because they’ll more than likely be the one interviewing you too. If the person’s name isn’t on the job description so you know who to send everything to, then it’s your responsibility to do some research. The best way to find out is to search the company’s page on LinkedIn. If that doesn’t work, then you need to pick up the phone and call. While most people don’t want to do this, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about; in fact, it shows your dedication to pursuing the job and you’ll stick out in peoples’ minds.
As for addressing them, you’ll want to use the person’s first and last name as well as include “Mr.” or “Ms.” (i.e. “Dear Mr. Bo Smith” or “Dear Mr. Smith). If “Dear” feels a bit stuffy for you, you can use “Hello” instead. Just make sure not to use generic introductions like “To whom it may concern,” or “Dear Sir or Madame.”
#3: Create an opener that’ll get the reader’s attention
Your opening sets the tone for the rest of the cover letter, so you want it to be engaging, memorable and relevant to the job you are applying for.
While you don’t need to include your name (because it should be at the top of the page), you should mention the position you are applying for because there may be multiple positions open within the company. Next, you’ll want to answer why you want this job. Do you frequently use the products the company sells? Do you love their brand or something they are involved with? Do you have experience solving a problem they’re currently working on?
Maybe you have a story that relates to the company or a product they sell, you can use that as an attention grabber because it’s unique. Or maybe something happened in your life that drives you to work in your specific field. Employers want to know what makes you tick and see why you stand out among other candidates.
#4: Explain why you are a great hire
With the opening done, now it’s time to list a few key ideas that will be the meat and potatoes of your cover letter. This will not only show your understanding of the job and company, but also how your experience lines up with what they are looking for.
Look over the job description, see if they list any problems they’re looking to solve or if there are any key words mentioned multiple times. These will be the most important things they are looking for. Finally, list three to five qualifications that are your strengths and will help you accomplish the job’s tasks.
#5: Support your experience with examples and stats
Now we’re going to take those qualifications from the previous step and back it up with examples from your past experience. Make sure to list something that isn’t on your resume, it’s OK to use numbers that are mentioned in your resume, but the goal is to paint a more broad picture of your accomplishments.
If you are having trouble coming up with ideas, ask yourself these questions: What approach did I take to tackling one of the responsibilities I mentioned on my resume? What about your personality, passion, or work ethic made you especially good at getting the job done? If your supervisor said something positive about what you have done, you can include that as well!
#6: Have a strong conclusion
Your closer is your last chance to express your excitement for the job and why you would be a good fit. It doesn’t need to end with a simple “I look forward to hearing from you.” It needs to be a final summary of your important qualifications that make you the right fit for the position.
This is also a good time to add important details like if you are willing to relocate for the job, for example. Make sure you sign off professionally and go through one last time to fix any spelling or grammatical mistakes!
For more job seeking tips, check out our other blogs!