Job searching is exhausting, both mentally and physically. Plus, you often need to write a cover letter for each application, which can make it more time consuming to apply to even entry-level job positions.
What is the purpose of a cover letter? With a cover letter, you can introduce yourself to the company, outside of a resume which is a list of your previous work experience. In the cover letter, you can explain yourself and why you would be a great fit for the organization and why you want to work with the team.
While not every company will require that you submit a cover letter with your application, most experts agree that it’s a beneficial step. By adding extra information about yourself, you increase the chance that a recruiter will invite you for an interview where you can show off your skills. Without the cover letter, you might not get through the initial stage.
What Is A Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a short document which is in traditional postal letter format. The cover letter is your opportunity to explain deficiencies in your resume by highlighting the benefits that you would bring to the business. By doing so, you can give more color to your resume and improve your chances of success, particularly if you’re underqualified for the role.
Organizing a Cover Letter
The organization of a cover letter is simple, especially because it shouldn’t be longer than a single page and won’t take long for you to create. The document should have three sections: an introduction, body, and conclusion.
In the introduction, you will let the recruiter know who you are and why you want the position. In the body of the letter, you can highlight the value that you bring, with key examples, which should link directly to the necessities and requirements that are in the job listing. By doing so, you let the recruiter know that you’re capable of performing the necessary tasks for the job.
In conclusion, you should thank the recruiter and HR team for their team and repeat your desire to work for the company itself and explain why. You might believe that it’s a force for good in the world, or offers industry-leading products and services. Regardless, complimenting the staff and the company can go a long way to getting you an interview.
If you wish, in conclusion, you can directly ask for an interview. HR teams and recruiters often have complete authority over who gets invited and adding candidate isn’t a huge issue. Therefore, asking for the chance to interview and explain the value that you can bring to the organization can be a fun and effective power move.
In every job application that you write you should personalize your resume and cover letter as much as possible. Failing to do is one of the biggest mistakes that applicants make because it’s clear to the recruiter that the person isn’t interested in the specific company, only in getting a job. This desperation and lack of intent are obvious and a turn-off.
To counteract this effect, it’s vital that you customize your cover letter as much as possible. We don’t think you need to rewrite it entirely each time; this would be far too time-consuming. But the introduction and conclusion should be changed at the very least. The body will typically explain the value you bring, which will be similar for most businesses.
However, if you have a specific piece of knowledge about the industry or the company in question, you might choose to include this in your cover letter. This fact can show the recruiter that you are a proactive and interested candidate who knows about the industry and the aims of the business. By doing so, you stand out against the competition.
Similarly, if you know about the recruiter or a high-level executive, you might include a factoid that relates to your experience. This tactic is particularly common if you went to the same college, whereby you have an instant connection, which can encourage them to interview you and even make the questions easier for you to answer.
Remember, you should always try to speak directly to the person who will be reading your cover letter and resume. A little research can go a long way, particularly if you can identify the head of human resources or the specific recruiter who is hiring for the position. In your letter, you should write to them and use their name multiple times.
This method shows that you are proactive enough to find out the name of the recruiter and ensure that you speak to them personally. Doing this isn’t going to get you a job, but it might be the difference between you getting an interview or having your resume thrown in the trash. At which point, you can blow the interviewer away and score the position.
Draw Attention to Your Benefits
The primary reason for writing a cover letter is to alter the way that the recruiter reads your resume and application as a whole. While the best applicants might not benefit hugely from writing a letter, people who aren’t as qualified can draw attention to their benefits and the value that they will bring to the job.
Let’s say that you have only three years of experience, while the job calls for four or five. In the letter, you could mention how you took responsibility for tasks and led teams, as more experienced members of other companies would. Therefore, you’ll be able to show how you fit the job description perfectly, despite your resume not showing it.
When you’re writing a cover letter, you want to avoid making wild statements and claims. Your goal should be to show the recruiter with a specific example and then to explain how this experience is important for the role you’re applying.
Anybody can make big claims. But by showing data and specific examples, you’ll stand out against the competition and earn the respect of the HR team. A great way to do this is to use pieces of data like:
- Generated $1,000,000 in revenue for the company in 12-months
- Grew the number of sales leads by 73% during a 3-month window
- Led a team of 6-members to grow profitability by 14% during my tenure
Do you see how these pieces of data are useful? They are recognizable and verifiable claims, which means that the interviewer doesn’t need to rely on your word; they can check them with your references. As a result, the risk of hiring you goes down drastically, massively improving the odds of you being invited back for a further interview or getting a job offer.
Regardless of the job that you performed before this role, you have some experience where you can draw data and facts. Even a waitress might be able to say that she was in the top 3% for monthly earnings, bringing in $79,430 in revenue for the month and being promoted twice within 12-months.
Every job has metrics that you are scored against, whether you realize it or not. By identifying them and collecting data, whether precise or a fair estimate, you can boost your resume and enhance your cover letter. It will encourage the recruiter to look more closely at your application and to give you a shot at an interview.
Maximizing the Value of the Letter
A key mistake that many applicants make is crafting a letter that adds zero value to their application, often being a hindrance rather than a benefit. A great way to make this mistake is to create a longwinded letter than nobody has time to read. It doesn’t matter if it’s the greatest piece of literature ever created; it’s not going to help your job hunt.
You should always keep the cover letter to a single page. Unless you have a long work history or a serious connection to the firm, half a page will usually be acceptable and will ensure that the recruiter reads it rather than throwing it in the garbage.
Likewise, the risk goes up dramatically once you include a cover letter because there is a much larger chance that you included an error, grammatically or factually. Therefore, you need to take even more time than usual to proofread your cover letter and ensure that it’s perfect and can’t be improved before you send it over to the recruiter or HR department.
Remember, you can use templated letters, so, the value of perfecting the template is huge. Take the time to do it right the first time, and you won’t have to go back and make changes later. Plus, it will generate better results during your job search.
Finally, make sure that you end the letter with your signature. If you’re giving the letter in-person, write it with pen and ink. If it’s an online process through email, you should ink your signature onto a piece of paper and scan it so that you have a digital copy. Then, you can add it to the end of any letter to make it look professional, smart and courteous.