How to Craft a Brilliant Cover Letter, Even if You Hate Writing
I know, I know. Writing the umpteenth cover letter is getting old and you never thought you were a great writer to begin with. There really is a method to the madness and here are some tips to get you the interview and provide the hiring manager with compelling reasons to hire you.
First of all, the cover letter is critical. It’s not meant to repeat what you already have on your resume, but to add additional information that shows the employer why you’re a good fit for this particular position and how you can help them meet their goals.
The key is to show why you like the company, what interests you about this position and share specifics about how you’ll hit the deck running when you get the job.
8 Tips to Crafting your Best Cover Letter
1. Whatever you do, get the actual name of the person who is interviewing or doing the hiring. Don’t make the rookie mistake of addressing your letter “To Whom it May Concern.” There are multiple ways to find this info, such as:
- Carefully checking the job listing
- Checking the email address, then Googling the last name along with the company to come up with the full name
- Search LinkedIn and see if the company lists the hiring manager’s name
- Go to the company website and find the department on the staff page or ask a friend who has a contact at the company
- Finally, you can always call and ask.
2. Begin by explaining your interest in this job. Make it compelling by starting out with a statement about how you’ve always been interested in “finding unique ways to make a guest’s stay memorable,” or “expanding your culinary skills in this specialty market”… instead of saying “I’m applying for this job at your company in response to your ad.” Use the job listing to focus on one thing that you’re really drawn to.
3. Then you’ll want to showcase your qualifications by providing a “story” or relating an experience that shows what you can do. Instead of just providing a laundry list of skills, put it in context of how you’ve solved a problem creatively or developed a new approach, based on your abilities and personality. Just be sure to keep it professional.
4. In the next paragraph, explain what you can do for them and how you’ll be able to make a difference right away in this new position. Define how your knowledge and experience can help them fulfill their goals, focusing with enthusiasm on the opportunity to show more in the interview.
5. It goes without saying that you must double and triple check that there are no spelling, formatting or grammatical errors in the letter. That will immediately undermine your attention to detail and your professionalism.
6. Add some keywords. This will go a long way toward ensuring that they can quickly scan your letter and identify the job you’re looking for. Many companies use an automated system to cull the applications down to those that are relevant to a particular position and those systems rely on keywords. Choose the most important keywords from the job description as well as any common acronyms used in the industry and sprinkle them throughout your letter.
7. Keep it short. It’s important that you demonstrate the ability to communicate concisely and clearly. Three paragraphs are all you need – skip the lengthy explanations…just stick to the point.
8. Be sure to send your cover letter as a .pdf. Most everyone can open a .pdf file, regardless of what platform they’re using. If they can’t open it, they’re likely to just move on to the next applicant. Doing it this way ensures you’ll have more control over how it appears on the screen and not have to worry about formatting errors that might occur if they try to convert it from another format (like WORD or PAGES).
Remember, you’re selling your skills and promoting yourself to this hiring manager. Make sure your letter is conversational and interesting…not just a list of skills and results. Finally, be sure your tailor your cover letter to each company and each job to which you apply. Double check for any errors and be sure to ask for the interview, so you can further demonstrate what you can bring to the job and the company.