NEWS + ADVICE
How to Write a Cover Letter that Matters
Our list of the 8 things you must do to write a cover letter that counts.
A well-written cover letter is a useful weapon in your cleared job search arsenal. It can set you apart from other cleared candidates, and can make the difference when two candidates are close. Many recruiters dread cover letters because they’re essentially all the same. They are an afterthought – hastily thrown together once the real work of resume crafting is finished.
Be different than your cleared competition by using these tactics:
1. You won’t hurt your chance of getting the job if you write a decent cover letter, but you may hurt yourself by not writing one.
If the job posting asks for a cover letter, you cannot skip it. Some organizations will drop you from consideration if they ask for a cover letter and you don’t supply one. Read the job posting carefully before deciding not to write one – but you should write one anyway.
2. Target the Hiring Manager.
Your target in writing a cover letter is really the hiring manager, more so than the recruiter. Do some research and be sure to address your cover letter to a specific person.
3. A cover letter isn’t about you.
The hiring manager has a problem and you’re the solution. Instead of expounding eloquently about how amazing you are, clearly and briefly state how you can solve their problems using the skills and experience you’ve picked up in your cleared career.
4. Use the main bullet points in the job description as talking points in the cover letter.
Show how you match or exceed their main requirements. Don’t get too wordy, and don’t address every requirement.
5. Mention the name of the position you’re applying for and the name of the company.
This little bit of personalization helps to show you’re not sending the same cover letter to every job you’re applying for. Say something that shows you’ve done some research on the company.
6. Include relevant details that aren’t in your resume.
This is your opportunity to share information such as an interest in relocating to the area, or when you’re available to start work if it’s something other than a two-week notice.
7. Don’t claim to be a self-motivated, driven, energetic, confident, highly qualified team-player with a proven track record of generating results.
This sort of subjective babble is on every single cover letter. And don’t use words that you wouldn’t normally use – we’re looking at you “herewith”. Don’t write like you’re following a guide to correspondence etiquette from the 1950’s.
8. If you’re emailing your resume, put the cover letter in the body of the email.
As an attachment it may never get read, plus you’re saving your target reader an extra step.
If you write a cover letter that is tailored to the position with relevant information not found on your resume, you will literally surprise the person reading it. Employers don’t expect good cover letters anymore, so be sure to write one that counts.
“I like cover letters so I can see how you communicate, and gauge your interest in the position and my company. Do your research and explain why you want to work for me.”– Amy Zupovitz, Axiologic Solutions