Never Be Afraid to Write a Cover Letter Again
Once again, you’ve found yourself staring at a blank Word doc devising the best way to write the dreaded cover letter. You ask yourself, is this even necessary? Does anybody even read these? Sadly, the answer is yes and yes. A cover letter is your chance to show your personality and impress the hiring manager for your dream job; or any job for that matter.
Your resume can only take you so far, but your cover letter fills in the experiences between a resume’s bullet points. Here are some tips on cover letter writing to make the process a little less painful.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Just like your resume, keep the cover letter to one page. Think of it this way: would you want to read pages and pages of someone’s work experience? Probably not. Start with a catchy introduction about yourself and perhaps what drew you to the position.
Stay away from boring intros like, “I am applying for such-and-such position and would love to work for you.” They already know this, otherwise they wouldn’t have your cover letter in front of them.
The next two paragraphs should highlight your experiences relevant to the job, and what you bring to the company, i.e. why they should hire you. Write no more than three paragraphs, keeping it short but still informative.
Your Skills are Valuable
Starting with what you bring to the table will catch your reader’s attention and let them know why you’re the best candidate. Only highlight experiences that are relevant to the job, but be sure to emphasize your soft skills. Some examples could be your communication skills, or how you problem solve; these attributes demonstrate how you handle projects in the workplace.
If you’re newly out of college and feel like you don’t have much to offer by way of experience, then emphasize your education and abilities. For instance, be sure to highlight large projects you may have worked on in school, or any volunteering opportunities you had. These types of experiences are valid and show the hiring manager that you were proactive in college.
What You Bring to the Table
This paragraph can be tricky to write because you really have to sell yourself. Unless you’re brimming over with confidence, you may be like most people and have trouble marketing yourself. To start, write about what drew you to the job, your passion will shine through giving you authenticity. Being authentic gives you credibility and managers want to know they’re hiring someone reliable.
The second half of the paragraph is where you explain why they should hire you. A manager is determined to hire for a few reasons: there’s an open position, a position is needed to solve a problem, or a new role needs to be created. Sell them on how you fit their needs; it shows them you’ve done your research and are determined to secure the job.
Wrap it up Nicely
The last section of your cover letter should be a few sentences on how they may contact you and when you’ll be following up. It’s very important you follow up with the recruiter or hiring manager because they go through many applications and won’t remember every single one, even if they liked you. Make it easier on them by following up, at the latest, two weeks after you send your letter. Checking in shows how much you want the position, which will help them remember you better, and that will hopefully lead to the interview.
We know they’re tough to write, but don’t let your loathing for cover letters get in the way of landing an interview. You want it to stand out above the rest, and it’s possible, if you show who you are. Keep it simple and full of personality so you can impress the hiring manager before you two even meet.
Jessica Gibbs studied Apparel Merchandising and Communications/Journalism at Colorado State University. She is currently a guest writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.