Writing a cover letter is an important part of the job application process, but a lot of people don’t know how to write an effective one because they’re using outdated advice.
A cover letter is submitted alongside your resume, but it shouldn’t contain all the same information as your resume. This is your chance to introduce yourself in a personable, engaging way and tell them exactly why you’re the right person for the job.
But how do you do that? Here are our seven tips for writing a cover letter that will get you noticed.
7 Tips for Writing a Killer Cover Letter
- Customize The Letter
One big mistake people make is submitting the same cover letter to several jobs. Although you can use the same template for each letter, you should always tailor your cover letter to the job description.
You should also include the hiring manager’s name in the greeting, if possible. This may require a little research and if you can’t find it, using “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear ABC Team” is perfectly fine. Just don’t start your cover letter with “To Whom it May Concern” or Dear Sir or Madam.” Most companies will see this as way too formal and it is a giveaway that you probably didn’t personalize your letter.
- Write a Good Opening Line
The opening line of your resume is your hook. Draw in the hiring manager with an interesting first sentence that relates to your passion for the field or why you’d be a good fit for the position. You don’t need to state your name here since it’s in the header of your cover letter and on your resume. And while it’s good to it mention the position that you’re applying for, doing it in a creative will go further. Instead of, “I’m excited to apply for the I.T. specialist position at XYZ Company!” try something like, “When I was in high school, I told myself that one day I’d work at XYZ, I just didn’t know how I’d get there. Today I saw you’re hiring an I.T. manager and knew that this was how I’d join the XYZ team.”
- Use Keywords From the Job Description
Resumes and cover letters get put through applicant tracking system (ATS) software that matches applicants using keywords from the job description. If your cover letter and resume don’t have some of the same keywords as the job description, your resume might never even reach the hiring manager.
Look at the job description and pick out the most important certifications or skills the employer is looking for and use those keywords in your resume and cover letter. If the job description specifically mentions a specific certification you’ve earned, like Linux Essentials, you should use that exact phrase when discussing it in your cover letter. If the job description mentions flexibility, that’s another keyword for your letter!
- Go Beyond Your Resume
Your cover letter is a chance to expand on the information in your resume. Elaborate on the most relevant experience you have with real results and examples. If you have trouble elaborating on your resume, think about what approaches you used when undertaking your job responsibilities or what about your personality helped you get the job done. Use that information to give the hiring manager more information and persuade them that you’re the best person for the job.
- Talk About What You Can Do for the Company
Cover letter is a chance for you to sell yourself and tell the hiring manager what a good fit you would be for the job, but it’s also a chance for you to tell them what you can do for their company. Can you improve their processes? Are you especially adept at a program or software that they use? Tell them why you would be an asset to their team.
- Focus On Your Strengths
This seems obvious but a lot of people inadvertently point out their flaws in their cover letter. Saying things like, “Despite my lack of experience as a manager…” doesn’t add anything to your letter and only points out that you don’t have managerial experience. Don’t talk about experience that you don’t have. Highlight the experience you do have and the value it brings to the table.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Always proofread your cover letter before sending. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes have no place on a resume. There are several free grammar checkers to help you double check your spelling and basic grammar before submitting.