Learn to love writing cover letters
So much in life comes down to mindset.
It’s amazing how the most dreaded of experiences can mask a great opportunity, depending upon one’s attitude.
Such is the case with cover letter writing. There are several reasons so many people dislike this writing task, which also happens to be an essential tool in the job application process, often making-or-breaking one’s candidacy.
Firstly, the purpose of cover letters is often misunderstood. They are NOT meant to serve as your resume in paragraph style. While resumes are designed to cite facts about your accomplishments, the cover letter is a chance to share your personality, reveal specific skills and highlight the ways in which you stand out from the applicant pool. This piece of writing should convey an inspired tone of voice, to demonstrate interest, however, such an emotion isn’t easily conveyed after the tenth or fifteenth one you’ve drafted during a day's worth of job hunting!
A helpful bit of advice is to not stick to the same formula when writing your letter, as doing so can feel quite repetitious and downright dreary. Instead, try when you can to approach each correspondence distinctly, creatively and thoughtfully. Hiring personnel will be more apt to review your resume or application if this written opening to your “package” is engaging, rather than trite. To avoid sounding cliched, tailor your letter to each employer distinctly. For instance, if you’re applying for a job with a start-up organization, you may wish to be creative in how you structure your letter or energetic and spirited in sentiment.
To further demonstrate your custom-made interest in a specific firm, share a bit about how you first heard of this company and what attracted you most. Again, the state-of-mind you have while relaying such information is important. If you absolutely hate writing cover letters, it will come across in your language and pitch.
Not everyone is adept at or enjoys selling themselves, which is another obstacle many job applicants face when crafting their cover letter. Some folks find it difficult to determine what exactly their strong suits are, while for others, gloating doesn’t come naturally and feels awkward or uncomfortable. To get beyond these challenges, adopt a "why-not-me?" attitude. If you don’t take pride and ownership of your qualifications, then why should anyone else? To lessen anxiety, try being more conversational in your tone of voice, as if you were composing an email, while staying focused on the compelling details of your professional achievements. Remain confident as you highlight your most valuable personal traits, initiatives and volunteer efforts.
Some job seekers may feel cover letters are a waste of time, or they might feel unqualified to write the cover letter due to limited skills and experience. But cutting yourself short by either not including this document or underselling yourself in the cover letter is definitely not the frame of mind you want to adopt as a job seeker. Whether you’re just starting out in the job market or shifting careers, the better approach is to write about existing skills, experiences and talents that will be of interest to employer prospects. Don’t be self-conscious about what you’re lacking, like work experience; instead, play up non-employment related experiences, such as community work, internships, classes, passion-projects, extracurricular activities and volunteer involvement. Let your passion for the industry, position and company shine, as well as your competency for the role you’re applying for. Finish off your letter with a professional closing that reasserts your interest in the job.
Finally, not everyone views themselves as a strong writer, and therefore, having to pen a cover letter can be very intimidating. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online and off for help with this professional marketing tool. For starters, ensure that you use a business letter format, keep your copy to under one page and in a style that your reader can relate to. To rid yourself of insecurity and self-doubt, have a friend or family member offer truthful feedback on your strengths, proof your letter, and then, you can revise and tweak from there.