Job seekers often treat a cover letter as an afterthought to submitting their resume. Some don’t bother to write one at all! A cover letter is your introduction to a prospective employer, an opportunity to make a good first impression. It’s a way to show that you’d be a great hire, a means to showcase your personality and convince a hiring manager to call you for an interview. While your resume is informative, it’s impersonal. Your cover letter provides a glimpse of you, grabbing interest and making the reader excited to check out your resume. It’s important to include a targeted cover letter in the body of your email message or with your online application. The following are some tips for writing a foolproof cover letter.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is an introductory letter sent to a potential employer when applying for a job. The primary goal of this missive is to give the employer more information about your qualifications and interest in the position, leading to an interview. A well-written cover letter provides insight into soft skills, attitudes and motivations, helping employers decide whether you are a suitable fit for their company culture and goals. A well-written cover letter can be more effective than a resume!
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
A cover letter is an extension of your resume, diving deep into your professional and personal qualifications. It shows the company why you’re the best candidate for the position. A cover letter provides an opportunity to introduce yourself in a personal way, adding an intimate touch to the facts and data in your resume. It’s meant to fill the gaps in your resume, to entice potential employers to read further and get to know you.
What should I include in a cover letter?
A cover letter is a critical part of your application for a position but it should be concise and precise, no longer than one page. Include the following elements:
- Header: Begin with a header that includes your contact information (name, email, phone number, address). You can include links to your portfolio or social media if this information applies.
- Greeting: Locate the name of the potential employer or hiring manager (in the job listing, on the company website, or by phoning the office). Include this name in the greeting, showing your enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile.
- Introduction: Provide the details of who you are and why you want the position. Mention the title of the job you’re applying for. Offer reasons why you will excel at the position. Express your excitement regarding the opportunity. Explain how you exhibit the strengths that the job posting mentions as essential. Include information regarding how you became aware of the opening.
- Qualifications: Focus on your history and qualifications. Share how you can benefit the company’s team. Provide in-depth details about the information in your resume. Explain how your experience applies to the job. Include stories, relevant projects and/or situations that provide insight into your problem-solving skills. Describe how you have contributed to the success of projects and the types of action steps you took. Convince those reading that you have exactly the skills and experience that they want/need.
- Values and goals: Let the potential employer know that you have knowledge regarding their organization, services and products, and that you understand their company mission and goals. Focus on how your goals align with theirs. Highlight the elements of their company culture that you connect to. Explain how you can benefit their future. Show that you can do the job well and fit in with the team. Present a positive attitude.
- Call to action: Summarize your interest. Thank the hiring manager for taking the time to review your application. Express interest in speaking more about the position, and a desire to schedule an interview. Include where, when and how to contact you.
- Signature: Conclude with a professional phrase (sincerely, respectfully, with thanks, thank you) and your signature.
- Be human: Don’t write a “cookie cutter” letter. Speak naturally. Be your unique self and create a connection.
- Convey enthusiasm: Add value to your application by allowing the prospective employer to feel your excitement through your cover letter. Be eager and energetic. Tap into what motivated you to apply for the position.
- Start strong: You need to grab attention within the first sentence or two. Get to the point. Know what the company wants/needs and let them know why you’re best suited to provide it. Assure them that you’ll fit in.
- Use your contacts: If you know a key employee with the company, mention it.
- Refrain from repeating your resume: Your cover letter should complement, not regurgitate, your resume. Provide a fuller picture of who you are. Add a personal touch. Draw in the reader by showcasing your qualifications. Promote yourself.
- Tailor the content to the position: Never use a one-size-fits-all letter. Target your letter to the job you’re applying for. Demonstrate your familiarity with the specific industry, employer and type of position. Match your unique skills and experience to that position. Explain what you can contribute. Use facts and figures that support your claims.
- Do your research: Research the company and impress the recruiter with what you know. Look at current events and/or blog posts about the company. Tie the information you learn into the opening of your letter.
- Pay attention to grammar: Misspelled words and/or use of improper grammar are a no-no! They leave a bad impression. Check your work. Have a friend check your letter.
- Be confident: Draw attention to specific examples of your work. Brag a little about your achievements and back them up with quantitative data. Mention relevant awards and advanced skill sets. A confident employee is an asset.
- Use descriptive language: Avoid cliches (team player, people person, good communicator). Use descriptive statements and follow them with examples of when you’ve displayed these skills.
- Use keywords: Incorporate key phrases identified in the job description. Some companies use resume-filtering software that scans for keywords, preferred skills and experience.
A cover letter brings character and soul to a factual resume. Be sure to write one for each job application. Tailor it to the company that you are applying to and the position you are seeking. Personalize it. Convey your unique personality and your enthusiasm for the job and you’ll likely score an interview.
Looking for a new position? Interested in some expert advice and assistance? Call the Calgary recruiting agency, Equation Staffing Solutions at 1-844-367-9618. We are a reliable, innovative, collaborative agency here to support you in your search for a position and/or personnel. Our experience will assist you! Contact us today.