When it comes to applying for a job, there are applicants who may have underestimated the power that comes with having a good application letter. In fact, many.
You shouldn’t try to fit your whole career and life into the space of a cover letter.
Your cover letter should be acarefully curated selection of stories from your career that gives the reader a clear idea of who you are and how you can add value to their company.
The Society for Human Resources surveyed organizations on resumes, cover letters, and interviews and found the top three things that must be included in a cover letter are:
Your cover letter needs to provide this information and leave the reader convinced that you are the right person for the job.
To accomplish this, you should be using the requirements of the job to dictate the content of your cover letter and following these best practices.
Show how you can solve specific problems
Saying you’re a ‘problem-solver’ is about as helpful as explaining your preference for chocolate croissants over regular croissants. Don’t tell them about your amazing problem-solving skills. Explain the details of a particular problem you were key in solving and how exactly you employed your skills to solve it. Better yet, if you know the company has a particular problem you could help solve, outline how you can help solve it.
Pick an appropriate voice and tone
You should write like yourself, but you should also pick the appropriate voice and tone for the company you’re applying to.
Researching the company will help dictate the tone you want to use, which may differ greatly, depending on where you apply. For example, the tone of your letter for a legal consulting firm will likely differ from a tech startup.
Tell your story
Telling stories from your career is a great way to demonstrate your skills and give hiring managers some insight into your personality and work style.
When looking for the right stories to tell, always look to the requirements for the position in the job description.
It is also helpful to research the company further online to get a sense for the company’s culture. Before drafting your cover letter, compare your skills with the requirements for the position.
It can be helpful to use Venn diagrams to brainstorm and find what competencies you want to highlight and what specific experiences you want to share. After you create this diagram and identify what falls into both circles, overlapping subjects will direct and inspire the content of your cover letter.
Let’s say you’re applying for a marketing director position. Among other aspects in the description, the job requires several years of marketing experience, a deep knowledge of lead generation, and strong communication skills. Describe how, in your previous role as a marketing manager, you ran several campaigns for your clients and exceeded their expectations of lead generation (with specific numbers, if possible), and how you also trained and mentored new associates on how to manage their own accounts, which improved client retention rates.
Your anecdote is accomplishing a lot at once—it’s demonstrating one of your top hard skills, lead nurturing, and showcasing how you can collaborate with trainees, communicate effectively, and educate new employees on processes and client relations. You’re proving that you can meet the communication standards and marketing knowledge they’re seeking.
Honesty is the only policy
Dishonesty on your cover letter isn’t in your best interest.
Implying or stating that you have a skill that you don’t actually have will come back to bite you upon being asked to use that skill in the interview or on the job.
Don’t sound like everyone else
“Hi, I’m ___. I’m a detail-oriented, multi-tasking, natural-born leader and I am perfect for your company.”
Hiring managers are going to read the same basic cover letter repeatedly, and you don’t want to be the last template email the hiring manager discounts before lunch. Adding a little word variation helps you stand out against other applicants.
Instead of describing yourself as creative, try imaginative. You’re inventive, not innovative. You’re not determined, you’re tenacious. These word variations at least show that you can think beyond what the average applicant is willing to do.
End with a call to action
End your letter with a reason for them to contact you. But don’t add remarks like, “I’ll call to schedule an interview.” This doesn’t make you a go-getter, it crosses a boundary.
Instead, let the call to action be polite and open ended, suggesting that you are excited to offer more information and that you’re looking forward to talking with them.
Proof your cover letter
Always proofread your cover letter for errors and have friends and family read through the cover letter.
How to Make Your Cover Letter Unique?
When thinking abouthow to make your cover letter unique, keep the following statements in mind:
These might sound like opposing statements, but they’re equally important for writing a successful cover letter.
Your cover letter needs to be highly related to the job you’re applying to, but the way that you prove your qualifications should show who you are as an individual.
Tell a compelling story
Everyone loves a good story, and recruiters and hiring managers are no exception. Telling compelling stories from your career will make your cover letter unique and memorable for whoever reads it.
Just be sure that the stories you choose demonstrate proficiency with the skills, tools and concepts that are required by the job you’re applying for.
What makes this company your go-to choice? Why is this company special to you? Perhaps you’re attracted to the workplace culture, or perhaps you’ve always admired the business philosophy that the company lives by.
Address the recruiter or hiring manager by name
Now it’s fine to just use “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern” when addressing the recruiter. In fact, I can tell you from experience that most people use precisely these words. However, I can also tell you that most people don’t get the job. If you want to make a strong impression, then take the time to find out who you’re addressing.
You may have to make a few phone calls or try several searches before you find the right name, but, the harder they are to find, the less likely other applicants are to do it and the more impressed they will be with you.
Give your cover letter a unique visual format
A unique visual format for your cover letter can help you stand out from other candidates in a positive way. Just be sure that the unique format you use is appropriate for the company you’re applying to and their industry.
Here’s a good example of an eye-catching cover letter format:
Recruiters and hiring managers read thousands of cover letters and resumes, so make sure that you avoid thesecover letter errors:
Avoid overused phrases
The average cover letter is going to be extremely generic and contain overused expressions such as “Thank you for taking the time to look at my resume” or “I believe that my set of skills make me a great fit for the job.” While none of these lines hurt your chance of getting the job, they certainly don’t help either.
Career coach Angela Copeland says, “stay away from phrases that are known to annoy hiring managers, such as ‘heavy lifting’ or ‘think outside the box’ or ‘game-changer.’”
Here are some more phrases that make recruiters and hiring managers groan:
Recruiters and hiring managers go through hundreds of cover letters and get tired of these clichés. They’re waiting for something new and refreshing to come along and it’s in your best interest to do so.
Never include irrelevant information
Never include irrelevant information in your cover letter. Irrelevant information can confuse or bore the reader, causing them to miss important points in your cover letter.
The longer you “sit on” a cover letter to edit and re-write it, the longer you prolong the opportunity for someone else to get the attention of the hiring manager you want to impress.
You should submit your cover letter as soon as you are certain that:
Submitting your cover letter
Always follow the submission instructions laid out in the job description when submitting your cover letter.
If you are submitting the letter though a website with fillable fields, be sure that no formatting or content errors have occurred.
Jan 30, When you're applying for a new job, you often have to write a cover letter to accompany your resume and serve as an introduction to who you.
I have been researching your company with great interest and would be very keen to learn of any opportunities for employment with you. I believe my skills and experience could be a great match with your organisation’s initiatives and culture. [In your opening, if you can draw any personal connection, such as a personal recommendation, recently attending one of their events or talks, or even reading about their company in the news, do so.]
As a [insert your role title/function] with [number] years of experience in the sector, I believe I could make a valuable contribution to furthering your company’s success and goals. [Briefly outline your experience and emphasise any skills and strengths that would benefit the company. Mention any projects you’ve worked on that relate to what the company does.]
My career highlights include:
I have been very excited to learn about [cite some development, project or aspect of the company that appeals to you and demonstrates your knowledge of the company. Now explain how you would contribute to the company’s projects, put forward an idea or demonstrate how you can help the company grow.]
I believe that my experience would make me an ideal fit for [company name]. I have attached my resume to provide more information about my background and would appreciate the opportunity to discuss how I may be able to contribute to your organisation. I will call you next week to arrange a time to meet at your convenience, but please do not hesitate to contact me at [insert email address and mobile number].
When you're applying for a new job, you often have to write a cover letter to accompany your resume and serve as an introduction to who you are. These letters must be brief yet compelling so you don't require much of the reader but still appear unique. This can be pretty tough, but if you utilize the principles of good storytelling and concise writing you can put together a letter that won't get lost in the pile. Here's how.
Title photo by Wrangler (Shutterstock).
Most cover letters tend to be fairly formulaic and look something like this:
I would like to express my interest in [SOME POSITION] at [COMPANY]. Although I've explored many options in my job search, I've come to respect the quality and integrity of the work that you do. For example, I was very impressed by the latest television campaign for Kellogs. I love creating great advertisements for television, radio, and print, and believe I would be a good asset to your company. I'm a hard worker who thinks outside of the box while producing creative work in an efficient manner. I believe you'll find that my four years of experience at [SOME OTHER COMPANY I CLEARLY WANT TO LEAVE OR WAS FIRED FROM], and my resulting portfolio, mirror these qualities. I look forward to hearing from you and exchanging ideas about what I can offer [COMPANY].
Thank you for your consideration.
If you read a letter like this, you wouldn't cry blood or toss it in the garbage in favor of getting a root canal. It's a perfectly acceptable letter by letter-writing standards, but it's also pretty generic and ineffective. It doesn't tell you anything about who the author is, any compelling reason why they're interested in their work or the company they're hoping will employ them, and really does nothing at all to stand out from the crowd. In this post, we're going to look at how to avoid letters like these and write interesting, unique cover letters that target the reader.
Your audience is your prospective employer, and while you can never know exactly who will be reading your letter you can know the company. You don't want to craft a letter in which you try to be everything you think your target company might want, but you do want to take who the company is into account. Chances are there were a few things you liked about the company before deciding to apply. For example, if you were looking for a job at the industrial design firm IDEO, you may have gotten excited when you heard about the giant airplane wing protruding from one of their offices or perhaps you just liked what you saw when they redesigned the shopping cart for an ABC news special. Whatever made you like the company, or got you excited about the job, likely tells you a thing or two about the corporate culture. This information is very valuable when writing your cover letter.
First of all, knowing the way a company operates will hint at the level of formality they'll expect from a letter. If you were applying for a job at Lifehacker, for example, you'd want to write something more casual. At a bank, formality would likely be more appreciated. Design firms and other creative companies generally fall somewhere in the middle. If you know the company, you should have a pretty good idea of what's fitting. Going back to the IDEO example, you could get away with a statement like this:
Ever since I saw the giant airplane wing crashing through the wall of your offices I knew IDEO was a place I wanted to work.
Something like that probably wouldn't get you very far at a bank, but this could:
The first time I scanned a check with my smartphone I was delighted by how simple deposits suddenly became. Now that I am in the market for a job, I immediately though of Chase because I want to help to create the tools that make banking a pleasure.
These statements compliment the company. They show that you know detail about the company, so you're not just applying abitrarily. They show that you appreciate the work the company does and they provide insight into who you are and what you carea bout. When you're writing your cover letter, knowing your audience can help you do this. You may be applying for a job because you want any job, but that doesn't mean you can't do a little research and find something you like and respect about your prospective employer. Doing so will give you the opportunity to connect with them in a very brief moment and help you avoid getting stacked in a pile of generic applicants.
Photos by Dominiek ter Heide and Adam Piontek.
You can't be someone else, so don't try. This is good advice for life, and is especially relevant when applying for a new job. If you try to present yourself as the worker you think the company wants, you're going to end up with boring statements that don't really say much about you. Your resume can sell your skills and experience. Your cover letter needs to sell you as a person, and give the company a reason to want you. It's an opportunity to put your best (and most relevant) foot forward, and you should take it. I think Joel Spolsky, founder of Fog Creek Software, explains this idea best:
The number one best way to get someone to look at your resume closely: come across as a human being, not a list of jobs and programming languages. Tell me a little story. "I've spent the last three weeks looking for a job at a real software company, but all I can find are cheezy web design shops looking for slave labor." Or, "We yanked our son out of high school and brought him to Virginia. I am not going to move again until he is out of high school, even if I have to go work at Radio Shack or become a Wal*Mart greeter." (These are slightly modified quotes from two real people.)
Who you are matters. It's true that some companies are mostly interested in hiring people who will simply get the work done, accept a low salary, and never complain, if you're applying for a job you're actually going to like then chances are you matter. Put a little of yourself into the cover letter. You're not sharing your disease history. You're sharing your personality in a way that's relevant to the job you want. It's fun. It's an excuse to be honest, and you increase your chances of getting a job, too.
Photo by Luke Baldacchino.
One of the most common mistakes people make in any kind of writing is that they tell their audience what they want them to know. Just as you'll generally find explanations to be dull in a film, your prospective employer will find them to be dull in a cover letter. There's no sense in telling anyone that you're a hard worker or a team player because you'll be 1) expecting that they'll trust such a generic statement and 2) among many other undesirable candidates who write the same thing. If you're going to provide reasons why you're great, provide an undeniable example instead.
The best way to do this is look back on your work history—or even something relevant that you created outside of your professional life—that made you feel proud of what you can do. Tell a story about that in a few short sentences:
For her 9th birthday, my daughter wanted brownies just like the ones they make at her favorite restaurant. I accidentally spilled a little pudding mix into the batter, only to discover a trick that made one of the best desserts I've ever had. I can replicate a recipe like the best of them, but it's the mistakes I've made while baking that remind me of how much I love it.
You can tell anyone anything, but you have to provide an example to demonstrate why they should believe your claims.
Photo by Les Chatfield.
Most employers care about the following three things above all else:
Before you sign and send your cover letter, do your best to ensure those three things are implied. Again, you don't ever want to actually say them, but you want your reader to think them when they've finished reading your letter.
Every time you apply for a job your audience changes. The job changes. Chances are you've changed a bit, too. While you can certainly re-use elements from previous cover letters when they are applicable, it's very important to remember that the exact same cover letter is going to have a different impact on different people. As you go ahead and apply for different jobs, remember that they are different. You'll want to craft your cover letters to express that.
Use your cover letter to describe how your current position has prepared you to comfortably handle the responsibilities of the new job. Consider including a brief .
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Ms. Lee,
I would like to formally apply for the Assistant Communications Manager position in the Corporate Communications Department. As you are aware, I have had extensive experience with Acme Retail starting when I participated in your summer editorial intern program while I was still in college in [insert Year].
Since then I have been advanced through progressively more responsible positions in both the Human Resources and Marketing Departments. During my tenure, I have developed exceptional writing and editing skills and have designed and implemented highly successful communications strategies at the departmental level.
I have also demonstrated my ability to work with leaders across business units and multiple lines of business, consistently earning exemplary scores on my annual performance evaluations by my supervisors.
In addition, I have been responsible for benefits communications and employee relations, as well as liaising with the company's clients and vendors to ensure that all projects are completed by established milestones.
These are just a few examples of my accomplishments and contributions to our company. I hope that you will find that this brief view, in combination with the attached resume, describes a dedicated employee of Acme Retail with the experience and skills to meet or exceed the requirements of the position of Assistant Communications Manager.
I appreciate your consideration and look forward to discussing this opportunity for promotion with you at your convenience. Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide that will support my candidacy for this promotion.
When applying for an employment, it is important to have an appropriate job application letter. You need to make sure that the application letter you will be.