Potential employees are being vetted in many ways these days, from social media to their LinkedIn profile and more. One of the most slept on skills within job hunting is the ability to write a killer cover letter. There are plenty of companies that don’t require them, at least not in the traditional sense, but even when it’s not a requirement submitting one can set you apart from other candidates. Writing cover letters can be hit and miss when applying for a plethora of jobs but they aren’t one size fits all and using a cookie cutter letter is not the way to go.
It’s difficult to decipher what the rules are. But don’t worry, here are some basic rules of thumb that should be followed regardless of your cover letter style.
1. Tell a story – What has worked for me numerous times is telling a story, and not just one but two. You should first tell the story of how your experience have led you to be prepared for the position you’re applying for. Don’t mistake this for rehashing your resume, but rather share your passion for your craft. Talk about the very first project you worked on and how it impacted you or how you have every skill and experience listed in the job posting. The next story you should focus on telling is what you can bring to the table if hired. Identify problems in the industry the company may be facing and explain how you have the solutions. Brevity is key, so try to write no more than 2-3 paragraphs. Even if the job posting specifically states what you should mention, dedicate your cover letter to telling your story while highlighting the company and their goals.
2. Don’t address anyone – You can get the name of the hiring manager by reaching out to the company or even doing your own research. But if you don’t after doing your homework, that’s no excuse to write “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”. If you don’t know who to address it to, there’s nothing wrong with just jumping right into it. It’ll look much worse if you use a generic greeting, than no greeting at all. This way, instead of being turned off by the fact you don’t know who you’re talking to, the recruiter will be focused on the body of your cover letter.
3. Numbers are your friends - Numbers and stats aren’t just for your resume. Your cover letter should tell a story your resume simply can’t, which is why they’re so make or break. If you create email campaigns that perform above industry average, say it. If you increased your company social media following by 50%, let them know. A cover letter is meant to communicate value, and your accomplishments as they align with your story. Don’t be afraid to share the results of your work, especially if you’re applying for a data-driven job.
If you’re a writer, a cover letter is almost non-negotiable but regardless you need to be able to hook your reader within the first line. Learn the language of the company and use your letter to show that you’d make a great fit. There are many different ways you can style your CV but as long as you understand how to speak to your credibility, in a clear and concise way applying for your next job will be easier than ever.
What success have you had submitting cover letters for a job, that other Creative Smart Girls should know about?