Cover letters are a crucial part of the job application process. It is a piece that can make or break your relationship with the company. Here are a few tips for writing a cover letter to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by potential employers.
1. Use keywords from the job posting
While some companies use actual people to look through job applications, some use software that pinpoints specific keywords to ensure that they are getting the most qualified candidates. Have the job posting open as you are writing your cover letter. If the job posting is looking for someone who is “punctual,” say punctual instead of saying “always on time.”
2. Personalize your cover letter for each company
Most lists of tips for writing a cover letter or resume will tell you this first: whatever you do, do not send the same cover letter to multiple companies. It makes you look lazy and generic cover letters are a sure way to get tossed to the side. Highlight the experience that is on the job posting and relate it back to how you will help the company with said skills and prior experience. Research the company and have that show in the letter.
3. Tell a personal story, but relate it to the company
Avoid the temptation to regurgitate your resume. Tell a story about why you love the company or how a previous experience will help you with the company you are applying for. However, make sure you apply this to how you will benefit the company. Give examples of how your skills that helped other companies you worked for and relate it to how you can help this company.
4. Address an actual person if possible
Try your best to avoid saying “Dear manager” when you start your cover letter. Show off your research skills by looking into who the hiring manager is. If this information is not readily available on the company’s website, use LinkedIn or call the company to figure out who to address it to. This is a surefire way to impress the company.
5. Keep it to one page
Do not fluff up your cover letter. Remember, hiring managers go through a lot of cover letters, so keep it short and sweet. Like your resume, it is important to keep your cover letter to one page. When you go into your interview, you will have an opportunity to explain things further and mention things you could not.
6. Do not bring up skills you do not have
It may be tempting to bring up the things about the company that you don’t match with in order to defend yourself. However, avoid this temptation. It is important to highlight the things you can do in order to look as good as you can. If the skill is brought up in the interview through the employer or one of your weaknesses, explain how your other skills make up for not having the one that they specified.
7. Use numbers to highlight your skills
Employers love seeing your skills quantified. Sure, every candidate will say they have written articles for a previous journalism company, but saying that you have written five to ten articles per shift is more impressive than a generic skill. State what kinds of tasks you did and how you used time management to get everything done. Unlike most tips for writing a cover letter, this one actually encourages you to add more detail and info.
8. Keep it personal, but write in the company tone
Write about personal experiences with other companies, but write it in the same tone of the company. This goes back to researching the company. This is especially important if you are applying for a position that is writing-intensive. This helps them know that you did your research and that you are able to write in the company vernacular.
9. Boost your confidence before writing
If you go into your cover letter thinking you will not get the position, you are correct. It is important to go into writing your cover letter confidently, even if you feel underqualified. Companies can tell in the tone of your writing if you are sure of yourself or not, so it is crucial to be confident. Remember all you have accomplished and let that shine through your writing.
10. Proofread it before sending it
This is crucial. There is nothing worse than an error in a cover letter. Send it to a mentor or a friend to look over for grammar and factual mistakes. Make an appointment with a career counselor. Whoever you show it to, make sure you show them the job posting to make sure you hit all of the essentials and worded things correctly.
What are your best tips for writing a cover letter? Let us know in the comments!
Ashley is a recent graduate from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA with her Bachelor's in journalism. She love writing articles about music and Philadelphia. Ashley would love to pursue a career in journalism in New York City.