Writing a Great Cover Letter
When you’re on the job market, it’s tough not to get bogged down by the repetition of repeatedly clicking through job postings, uploading your resume countless times, and, of course, writing the dreaded cover letter. While it can seem tedious typing up a different cover letter for each job you apply for, it’s important to remember that this is your only chance for a first impression: to show exactly why you’re the best candidate for the job. If you truly want the gig, take advantage of the opportunity by putting your best self forward using these strategies.
Research The Company
Before you begin composing your cover letter, you should learn as much as you can about the company. It’s going to be difficult to explain why you’d be a great fit if you don’t know what they need or value. Review their website, check out their bio, and make sure you have a good feel for some of their key accomplishments. Sprinkling these kinds of facts throughout the letter will boost your credibility and also show you have the work ethic and drive to do research and background work.
It’s likely that the person accepting your application is just as tired of reading them as you are of writing them. Your cover letter is a chance to stand out from the crowd and make a stunning first impression, so capitalize on the opportunity by telling them about what makes you different. Dig into your background and find the qualities you know make you unique, and find a way to weave those into your letter. Maybe you’ve got great attention to detail, or a knack for interpersonal skills, or even a remarkable sense of humor; touching on any of these kind of traits are going to help make your cover letter a diamond in the rough.
Ditch the Template
Starting from a cover letter template is a nice way to get a feel for the general form, but it’s easy to end up sounding like everyone else. If you’re simply downloading a template, switching out a few key facts and words, and signing your name, it’s unlikely that the letter conveys all the wonderful qualities that make you a perfect candidate. Instead of working with a premade letter, just keep in mind the general form and let your creativity do the rest. Every cover letter should include 3-4 paragraphs:
- Begin with a strong, captivating introduction, giving a quick elevator pitch on what the job is and why you’re applying.
- Your second paragraph is your chance to tell them who you are, and what makes you a great fit for the position.
- Your third paragraph is where you can detail your accomplishments and tales of success.
- Conclude with a concise summary of everything you’ve discussed, and leave your contact information.
Short is Sweetest
While it may seem tempting to go overboard in a cover letter, particularly when it’s a job you’re excited about, a lengthy cover letter is likely to go unread all the way through. A cover letter should rarely exceed a single page, so you’ll want to trim the fat and make sure you’re only keeping what’s absolutely essential.
The quickest way for a cover letter to get ignored is when there’s incorrect spelling, improper punctuation, or sloppy grammar. Read the letter aloud to yourself or have someone else take a second (or third) look at it before sending it on its way.
Searching for a job can definitely be a daunting experience, and can make you feel like you’re disappearing into a crowd. But when you’re armed with a great cover letter, one that shows who you are and what makes you so wonderful, you’ll find the confidence to get your foot in the door. And remember: you are the perfect candidate! Now, with this cover letter, it just makes it official.