Tips for Writing a Killer Cover Letter

As a Career Coach, I read and review cover letters with clients on a weekly basis. I want to share some tips that I tend to use with my clients in hopes it can help you as you review and revise your own cover letters.

Don’t think about yourself, think about the employer and the company

Everyone knows that you think the posting will be a great fit for you. You wouldn’t be applying to it if you didn’t think that. What hiring managers really want to know is what you are going to bring to the company. As such, when you write your cover letter, think of the “What’s In It For Me?” from the employer’s perspective. What are they going to get by having you work there, and why is it valuable?

Read and Understand the job Posting

This seems really simple, but it’s really important to understand the role you are applying for and what specific skills and experiences the company is looking for in someone who can fill the role. After reading the job description and developing an understanding of the skills they are looking for, start jotting out what specific skills or experiences you have that apply for this specific job posting.

Have a genuine reason for applying

As I said before, you’re obviously interested in the company or else you wouldn’t be applying in the first place. However, think through and then articulate some real reasons why you are applying to the role and what truly interests and excites you about the company. Yes, everyone loves the people, and the culture, or how amazing the company is, but if you want to stand out, you need to develop a genuine and personal reason for why you’re interested in and convey that authenticity in the letter you are writing. Maybe its’ because of a previous connection to the company. Maybe it’s because you’re passionate about the cause. Regardless, make sure that you have a reason and that you communicate it with honestly and conviction.

Showcase Your Skills

One way to show your qualifications is to highlight specific skills and experiences from your past that are your strengths. Here’s an example of how you can do this.

First, figure out which skills you want to emphasize by reviewing the job description.

Second, choose 3-4 skills you feel are your strengths that you want to focus on. Outline projects or responsibilities that prove you have expertise in that skill.

Finally, put these skills in the meat of the cover letter. It will look like this:

Keep it Short and Sweet

There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general, for resumes and cover letters alike, don’t go over a page. Keep it short and sweet.

 

Conclusion

Just like I said there was no one perfect way to write a resume there isn’t one perfect way to write a cover letter. The ones that tend to stand out are the ones that convey genuine interest, a deep understanding of the role/position and how your skills meet the needs of the role, and that are concise and to the point. So try these tips next time you are trying to write a cover letter and let me know how they work out.

 

Tips for Writing a Killer Resume

As a Career Coach, I read and review resumes with clients on a weekly basis. I want to share some tips that I tend to use with my clients in hopes it can help you as you review and revise your own resume.

Don’t Put Everything on There

Your resume should not have every work experience you’ve ever had listed on it along with every single thing you’ve ever done or responsibility you’ve ever had. For each resume you send out, you’ll want to highlight only the accomplishments and skills that are most relevant to the job you are applying for.

1-Page!

Resumes are not meant to be anthologies, they are meant to be summaries. As such, keep it to a page (max 2) with exceptions for academia and if you are a seasoned senior executive.

Keep it Recent and Relevant

You should focus your resume to show the last 10-15 years of your career history. Also, keep it to experience relevant to the positions to which you are applying. And remember to allocate space based on importance and impact. If you have to decide between two bullets, choose the one that had a greater end result or impact

Select your bullets carefully

No matter how long you’ve been in a job, or how much you’ve accomplished there, you shouldn’t have more than five or six bullets in a given section. I usually try to stick with 3-4.

Focus on Impact and Output

It’s not so much what you did, but rather, the impact, significance or output of what you did. It’s great that you created marketing assets, or managed a social media campaign, but what was the impact or the result of that?

It’s best when you can quantify it (ex: a 25% increase, 30 new customers, $100,000 in additional revenue) but not everything can be quantified nicely in those numbers. As such, qualitative can do if you can’t pin down a number (ex: designed marketing materials that were used in business development proposals) *As a note, when I read and edit resumes, this is the one thing I will drill hard on for my clients, as it’s the one that often is the most challenging.

Show Some Personality

Feel free to include an “Interests” section on your resume – it’s a great way to show off your personality and help you stand out amongst the crowd. I usually put this at the bottom of my resume

Finally, I truly believe there is not one right way to write a resume, but rather, many right ways to write a resume. At some point, (usually after the 20th or 21st revision) you are probably going to run into the law of diminishing returns with your edits. Additionally, if you ask 5 different people for feedback there’s a high likelihood you’re going to get five different potential results. At some point, you need to decide what makes sense for you and what is most consistent with what you want to put forward and show off to a recruiter.