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.
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.