I used to despise cover letters. Why? They seemed to take hours and hours to write. I had no idea if the hiring managers were actually going to read them. It felt like it was impossible to sell myself in less than 350 words.
With all of the following techniques mentioned, not only did I write better cover letters, but I've created them with less time and effort, and I've landed several interviews! Read carefully and my tricks will help you too!
Get started with a letter format that matches your resume format.
This will save you time later on. I added in all the basics to mine so it looks something like this.
The highlighted sections are the parts of the cover letter that I change for different job applications. I saved this as a Word Document and labeled it "Cover Letter Template." Setting a side a template for your cover letter and resume will make your job search so much easier!
In a previous post I mentioned consistency. That should apply to your cover letter too! The type of font and the size of the font you choose should match what's on your resume. That, my friend, is one perfect example of personal branding that will help you be more memorable in your job search.
Research the company and find out who the hiring manager is.
You will need the address of the company or business and it's extremely important to find out who the person is that will most likely be reading your cover letter. The last thing you want to do is start off your cover letter with "Dear Hiring Manager" or "To Whom It May Concern."
In many cases it will be fairly simple because of LinkedIn. I've had a lot of success with finding a company's profile page, and then looking through the list of employees until I found the person with a job title similar to Director of Human Resources, Human Resources Specialist/Manager, or Recruiting Coordinator.
If you can't find the person on LinkedIn, try the company's website. It's becoming more common for businesses to showcase their employees with a brief bio and picture with their job title. If that's the case for you... score! It could not have been easier to find the hiring manager.
When I tried everything I could think of and still couldn't find the correct person, I tried to address the team I would be working with or the manager who would be my direct supervisor. For example, I applied to a job at The University of Michigan about a year ago, and I started off my letter with "To the Digital Marketing Department Team." I was invited in for an interview so it must have worked!
Include your research in your cover letter. Quote a company's mission statement and explain why it inspires you. If they do charity work, share some volunteer work you've done. If they are a non-profit organization, tell them why working at a non-profit is important to you. The possibilities are endless!
Give an overview of the details that are enclosed in your resume. Pick the most relevant accomplishments that pertain to the job you are applying for. Try to incorporate some of the keywords from the job description in your cover letter.
Conclude your letter with an invitation for an interview. And don't forget to thank the hiring manager for taking the time to consider your application!
Proofread your letter more than once. Ask others to read it too!
I landed one interview because I had two friends and a college professor review my cover letter and resume. It can feel tedious at times, especially when different people will give you different critiques, BUT it will lead to less mistakes and more clarity in your writing.
And that's it! Easy right? (Or at least it will be simpler!)
A cover letter does not have to be fancy. It just has to look simple. Your content is what is going to attract a hiring manager, and compel them to schedule an interview with you. Keep persevering and focus on your application, and I promise the right interview will come along!