To some, the cover letter seems like an unnecessary document that employers simply glance over during his or her search for the perfect candidate, but that is not the case. Throughout this blog post, we will delve into why the cover letter is important and how to maximize its use to send you on your way to getting the job.
Contrary to popular belief, the cover letter does get read by employers. In fact, for some, it’s the most important document they read due to the personalization of its contents. We often think, “Oh, we will just let the resume speak for itself,” when it comes to rationalizing why not to send a cover letter. While this idea may make sense on the surface, we fail to consider what we have the opportunity to put in our cover letter. The cover letter lets us showcase our personality and become more relatable as a candidate. The resume simply states facts and accolades, while the cover letter can let the employer know the type of employee they will be getting – as a person, not just in terms of work output.
The cover letter ventures much further than what the resume allows. Don’t simply regurgitate what is in your resume; the cover letter gives you an opportunity to showcase something different, so do it. Show your passion for your work and how you’re different from other candidates. You can still use your resume as a guide, but expand on the bullet points you may have put in your resume and how you have accomplished those tasks and goals. One way to do this, while also giving concrete evidence of your success, is by using numbers to back-up how you’ve helped improve previous companies or how many specific tasks you’ve accomplished. For example, if your resume has a bullet point that says, “Helped X company increase profits,” in the cover letter you have the chance to say, “Increased profits for X company by X percent through X campaign” or something along those lines. Let the figures quantify your work.
Writing a cover letter may seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t consider yourself a writer, but try to avoid using a standard cover letter for all job applications. Tailor your cover letter to the position you are applying for. You can do this by spotting attributes the company may be looking for in the job description. By customizing your cover letter to each job you are applying for, you show the willingness to put in the hard work to land the job.
When it comes to the length of your cover letter, try to keep it between three to five paragraphs. You don’t want your cover letter to seem like you’re just doing it because the employer is asking for it, even if that is the case. You also don’t want to go on rambling for pages. Try to keep your cover letter in this three-to-five paragraph range with meaningful content in each paragraph. Also be sure to format your cover letter correctly so it is easy to read. Take a look at the example below to see how a correctly formatted cover letter might look.
Here are some other tips you should consider when crafting your cover letter:
- Try to avoid “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” Instead, try to find the hiring manager’s name and include that in the greeting.
- Instead of sending the cover letter to the generic company email, try to find the hiring manager’s email and send it to them.
- Send the cover letter as a PDF so that the formatting stays the same. Nearly every computer can read a PDF, but not all computers can read certain types of text documents.
- Be original in your writing so that it represents you.
- If possible, avoid starting too many sentences or bullet points with “I.”
The cover letter gives you the opportunity to truly sell yourself to the employer, allowing you the chance to show your personality and become relatable as a candidate. Be sure to make this opportunity count by crafting an attention-grabbing cover letter.