During your job search, you should never underestimate the power of a cover letter. Your cover letter can be the deciding factor in getting you the interview over someone who has essentially the same resume. As someone who receives job applications weekly, I will tell you that I DO take the time to open the cover letter. If I see that someone does not take the cover letter seriously or they’ve copy pasted it from another job they applied to, it’s an automatic no, regardless of their past experience. I always think that it’s such a shame when someone with a very strong resume choices to put little effort into the cover letter and they therefore miss a great opportunity because of it. Below are my tips on how to ensure that you are submitting a high quality cover letter that captures the attention of the hiring manager.
Keep it concise
Keeping a cover letter short and concise is sometimes harder than it sounds. Keep your cover letter to one page. This makes sure that even if the reader is skimming it, they’ll get the main idea right away. It’s important that you have someone read over and edit your cover letter because they’ll be able to help you decide where to cut something out or where you can make sentences clearer and shorter.
Tell a story
Your cover letter is your chance to let your personality shine through and to tell a story that relates to the position that you are applying for. You could share about a time when in class or an internship or past job you had to overcome something or how you got assigned a project that let you realize what you are passionate about.
Don’t use the same cover letter for every application
This one can be pretty tempting, especially when you are applying to so many jobs. You might think that substituting a word here and there will customize it enough to work. Unfortunately, most hiring managers can see right through this. Think of your cover letter as you having a one-on-one conversation with someone. Even if it’s the same topic, it’s going to be different depending on who you are speaking to.
Don’t write out your resume in paragraph form
Your cover letter is not a chance for you to write out your resume in paragraph form. That’s what your resume is for. If a hiring manager is reading your cover letter and it looks just like your resume, they’re going to move on to the next candidate who is ready to put in the effort to go above and beyond in their job application.
Share why you are excited about the opportunity
While your resume tells a hiring manger why you are qualified for a position, the cover letter is your chance to share why you are excited about the opportunity. Hiring managers want to hire candidates who are excited about not only the job, but about being with the company long term. They want to see that you are excited about building a career there.
Don’t sell yourself short
Too many times applicants use the cover letter to apologize for their lack of expertise in something or to talk about their weaknesses. Whether this approach is to sound humble or honest, it’s not the time or place. This is the place to sell yourself and explain why this job is the one for you regardless of your past experience.