So we’ve talked about resume writing and interview preparation, but there’s one thing we haven’t covered: Cover letters. For most employers, a cover letter is optional but I always advocate writing one especially for a job you’re really excited about; after all, it’s the one thing that can really set you apart from the competition. If you’re wondering how you go about crafting the perfect cover letter in a way that highlights your most desirable skills and witty personality, take notes below.
Transpose Where Needed.
Too often do I see people placing important information in a cover letter that would be more impactful on a resume. Your resume is your passport to a job and the letter is simply extra information. If you feel you’ve written really strong statements in your cover letter, now’s the time to rethink about whether it actually belongs on your resume since that’s the first thing someone will always read.
Don’t Summarize Your Resume.
When a recruiter decides to read your cover letter, they’re obviously looking for supplemental information. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen over and over is restating the resume in paragraph form. Instead, you should be using your cover letter to highlight your knowledge – the most important skills you have that can benefit the organization based on the job description and then provide evidence to back that up (anything that shows how you’ve added value before). You should also express your curiosity, interest, and passion in the industry/employer and then explain why/how you’re a perfect match.
An employer needs to know that you can step right in and get the job done, which is utmost importance if you’re looking to move into a new career.
You do this by showing (not telling) how you’ve made such transitions before and how you’ve overcome adversities. Also, use positive language, obviously a no-brainer but necessary – this means avoid words that provide any sort of uncertainty such as if, don’t, but, etc. And of course, always say “Thank you”.
Keep it short and keep it relevant. Break it up into 3-4 strong parts, each one focusing on very specific topics. That being said, you should have a small section of your cover letter dedicated to your goals – I’m talking no more than three sentences and it doesn’t necessarily need to be related to long-term goals, but something that shows that you are someone with direction. The great thing about writing these letters is that it really tests your creativity – how do you sell yourself in 3-4 short paragraphs? Pick your words wisely.
Never One Size Fits All.
It’s a pain in the ass, but you must tailor every single cover letter to every single job you’re applying to – that’s just the best way to truly write an effective cover letter. You might be thinking, “Customize how?” Again, the customization is really dependent on the job description (the key skills are they looking for) and the employer (What’s the culture at the company and then decide if you need to sound traditional, fun, youthful?).
At the core, you should always focus on the employer’s needs.