I love resumes. I love helping people with their interviews. I also would consider myself to be an expert on the job application process. If there is one thing I despise when it comes to finding a new job, it would be drafting a cover letter. Cover letters can be overwhelming.
Often when an applicant applies to a job they may think to themselves:
Do I even need to write this? Is anyone actually going to read this?
First off: Yes, cover letters do get read. Second, you never want to slack on any area of your application. You could have a strong resume and a weak cover letter and think you’ll be okay. But, I’m sure there may be a candidate with a strong resume and a good cover letter. This kind of candidate is the candidate that you want to be. So let’s get started and allow me to show you some ways to craft a winning cover letter.
Show Them What You Can Do
Beyond the resume, the cover letter allows you to deeply elaborate in words what you are capable of doing. Don’t be afraid to paint the picture of what you’ve done in previous roles.
Tailor the Letter
Although you may have a lot of experiences highlighted on your resume, make sure you elaborate the best ones for the position you are applying. Do not regurgitate your resume speaking of all of your work experience in the same order. Choose one or two that match the position and speak to your skills in the role.
Use Appropriate Language
One way to stand out in a bunch of applicants is to use strong language. By language I don’t mean proper words over curse words, we know that already. What I mean is use the same verbiage and language that is in the job description to place in your cover letter. If the position is looking for someone who, “takes the initiative and thrives in working independently.” Don’t be afraid to use those same words in your cover letter. Doing so will clearly articulate to the hiring manager that you are competent on what the role entails and that you possess the skills he or she may be looking for in an applicant.
Keep It Short
Your cover letter should be no more than a page. I always advise my friends, your cover letter is the 30-minute trailer, your resume is the 2-min promo video you see in the movies, and your interview is the full feature film. Keep your cover letter clear and concise.
Cut the Formalities
On another point about language, don’t be overly formal. For example, “I genuinely wish to express my ever-growing interest in working at your fine establishment.” Use good judgment and try to sound as sincere as possible. Keep language professional but also friendly and approachable.
Tell A Story
Why are you applying for the role? What does it mean to you? These are questions that you can answer in your cover letter that you may not be able to address on your resume. Hiring managers are humans just like everyone else. And what do people love? Humans. Stories. Things that they can connect to on a personal level. Humanize yourself in your cover letter by telling a story that proves why you are a good fit for the role.
Have Someone Read Over It
Have a friend or colleague look over your cover letter. Ask them is it clear, concise and compelling? You want to be able to hand your cover letter to anyone, and they understand why you are perfect for the job.
Attached is a cover letter that I wrote during my junior year of college. Use it as a reference and template. You can view it here.