How to Write a Great Cover Letter
Writing a cover letter can be a challenge. With the pressure to set your resume apart in an impersonal format like an email, it can feel paralyzing to write about your experience. However, if you can master the art of the introduction, you have a better shot at getting your credentials in front of the right people.
Whether you’re applying to a company or a recruiting firm, follow these six steps when starting to put together your cover letter and kick it up from forgettable to dynamic:
1. Speak to the company’s needs. When you are applying for a new position, focus on how you can help the company to which you’re writing. If you can speak to their needs, you are demonstrating your value in a way that a black and white resume might not be able to do. Showing you understand the needs of the company shows you’re a team player. It demonstrates your ability to serve the company’s goals. When you’re speaking to what your potential employer needs, it puts you in a position of having something compelling to offer.
2. Be specific. Generalizations like “hard worker” and “skilled in Photoshop” aren’t as intriguing as specific references to what you’ve accomplished. Use facts and figures to get attention. If you’re applying for a sales team position, write about how you increased leads by a certain percentage point over the last quarter or your average number of deals closed at your last job. Saying something specific to pronounce your hard work ethic or technical skills will make you memorable; it will give the employer an easier way to separate you from the sea of hard workers.
3. Keep it brief. Employers are reading hundreds of applications in a month. Your ability to understand and value their time by omitting unnecessary length in your email is key. Give them enough specifics that they understand who you are, but keep your email under three paragraphs.
4. Use facts that aren’t on your resume. Don’t use your cover letter as a way to rehash your resume. What essential facts about you should your potential employers know that they can’t get from your resume? Talk about some of the more intangible facets of your career—from mentorships you’ve had, coachings you’ve done, workshops you’ve completed, or even self-education—to demonstrate a more colorful and well-rounded picture of you as an employee.
5. Prove you’ve read their mission statement. A company’s mission statement is becoming more and more visible. From branding to blogging, most companies have a “why” behind what they do. Find out what the company’s “why” is and speak to it. Read the mission statement and figure out how your personal mission statement aligns. Companies want to hire like-minded workers. Prove that you share the same values in a quick sentence or two. It’ll go a long way.
6. Don’t overdo it. Writing a great cover letter means balancing confidence and humility. As you’re writing your specifics, speaking to the company’s needs and using facts to support your resume, resist overdoing any one of those areas. Be economical with your words. Be confident in your ability to be the right fit and don’t try to do too much impressing. Generally, people want to work with people they enjoy. They want to find the right person for the job as soon as possible. Know that your potential employer is on your side and be yourself.
Create the whole package with these cover letter tips above and our tips for strengthening your resume here. And when you’re ready to apply? Hop on over to our jobs board and get in touch. We’re waiting for you!