Cover letters have long existed in the job application process. Although there has been debate surrounding its importance in recent years, it still remains a viable form of communication in the job-seeking process. A cover letter is a document that accompanies a resume and allows you to convey more of your personality. A resume tells employers your skills and your experience, but they only get to know you on a more personal level through a cover letter. It’s an introduction of who you are with examples of relevant accomplishments and a call to action.
Yes, cover letters are probably read by a fragment of hiring managers who are trying to go through stacks of applications, but that shouldn’t deter you from using it to your advantage. Just like an advertisement is meant to capture the attention of a client, your cover letter is a lucrative way to get your foot in the door of a target company or for an opportunity you’ve been gunning for.
What is the purpose of a Cover letter?
On top of acting as an introductory feature to your expertise, a cover letter is meant to go beyond what’s on your CV. It showcases the first impression and gives you a chance to stand out as a strong candidate. It is meant to give a more concrete picture of who you are as a professional.
In the past, a lot of us were fixated on the fact that the cover letter is a make-it-or-break-it kind of affair in the job-seeking process. This equated to oversharing lengthy details, from career aspirations to relevant skill sets and educational qualifications and accolades. It was also a means to showcase top-notch writing aptitude. In today’s digital era, such a cover letter will most probably be struck off as obsolete and wordy. Cover letters are now evolved and serve the purpose of being a relevant header or e-note that leads into your resume.
Your cover letter must get the point across in seconds, therefore you do not have the luxury of wasting your shot at making your first impression. Readers prefer language that is direct and succinct. Research the company to have a deeper understanding of the mission, values, and objectives and carefully outline that to your career trajectory. Your cover letter is not a summary of your resume, rather a “value add” to what is in your resume.
Fundamentals of a Cover Letter
Writing a cover letter should not feel like a downer, rather it should be a quick and easy process with these few tips:
Keep it Short and Sweet
A cover letter should answer why you are applying for a particular position. Remember that you have less than 10 seconds to communicate the “why” and prove yourself a worthy candidate. The first strategy is to keep it short and concise (under 250 words). Start by stating your objective clearly then pick three things that determine your career success. Finally, align those career wins to the company goals and objectives.
Have a Main Cover Letter
The second step is to ensure you have a master cover letter that you can tweak according to the various positions you are applying for. This not only saves you time but also saves you the trouble of making egregious spelling mistakes and punctuation errors recreating a new document every other time. Nonetheless, always proofread your cover letter and ensure it is addressed accordingly.
Personalize Your Cover Letter
Personalize your cover letter to the hiring manager or to whom the job directly reports. This shows avid interest in the opportunity or company and sets you apart from going the extra mile to recognize the person who holds that particular position in the organization. You want to avoid being seemingly generic. Phrases like “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” are rigid, archaic, and may set you up for failure as an individual who is oblivious or even worse, can’t get a simple job done. My tip is to always personalize your cover letter each time you apply.
To all my brilliant career minds out there, don’t allow your job-seeking process to feel like a mundane experience. Switch that up today by adopting these rare cover letter tips for job applications. Keep your focus and keep your reader’s interest. Remember, today’s job market is very competitive and a well-crafted cover letter can capture interest just on its own merit. Make that count!