5 Things to Include in Every Cover Letter
The cover letter is a subtle art. If executed correctly, it’s an invaluable platform capable of delivering what a bare-bones résumé can’t: personality. Best the competition by eschewing the typical canned, cliché templates in favor of an approach that allows your distinctive skillset to shine. Keep scrolling for our must list for a making masterful first impression on the page.
The business landscape has a short attention span, so keep your formatting short and sweet. The goal is to include details beyond what’s communicated in your résumé. Emphasize what will you bring to the company. What’s in it for them? How do you stand out? Do your homework, and revise your copy to be as streamlined as possible. Most hiring managers have stacks upon stacks of candidates to review. Focus on clear, concise language that steers clear of the usual tropes and clichés. Instead of stating that you’re “thrilled for the opportunity,” lead of with a tangible result you produced or skill that makes you a unique asset to this specific team.
The surest way to dissolve into hiring oblivion is the dreaded cut-and-paste. If applying for multiple jobs, draft multiple cover letters. Each response should be thoughtfully tailored to the company in order to market yourself effectively. Do a deep dive of the company history. Find out what sets them apart from the competition and how you can lead. From there, include a brief anecdote that reflects your professional accomplishments or taste. Instead of calling yourself a “team player,” dive into a witty anecdote about working with a dynamic group.
Math is objective. You can’t argue with numbers. Stats offer tangible proof of outstanding work. If you spearheaded a campaign or lead growth in your field, follow up your statements with hard specifics. Quoting the numbers is a quick and simple way to effectively communicate what you can bring to the table.
Now is not the time for modesty. Forbes advocates leading off with a name-drop in your opening sentence. If you were referred by a current employee or mutual contact, call that connection out as early as possible. Most industries run on relationships; maximize your connections. Include a more comprehensive list of references at the end of your résumé, if you feel so inclined. Avoid addressing the letter itself to an anonymous party. Do your homework. Call the company and inquire after the name of the HR representative or hiring manager. Addressing the correct person shows initiative and resourcefulness, even if you don’t already have an in.
Save the cut-and-dry vibes for your résumé. Cover letters can veer on the stale side. Use this to your advantage. A little personality goes a long way. What’s your elevator pitch? Convey your enthusiasm and sell yourself. If you know the person you’re addressing personally and a more convivial tone is warranted, lean into that. Your language should remain professional without relying on tropes. The goal is to communicate you’re likable and will mesh well with existing company culture. Do a thesaurus deep dive. Toss out any adjective you’ve ever come across in an online template in favor of action verbs and descriptors that mean something to you. Authenticity is the best way to stand out.
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