How To Write An Effective Cover Letter
Cover letters are one of the most stressful parts of a job search. How do you structure the cover letter? What do you include in your cover letter? How do you use a cover letter to stand out in today’s saturated job market? The list of questions seems endless.
As a career coach, a professional resume writer, and a former hiring manager, I have read more cover letters than I can count. Even if you have a warm introduction to the recruiter or hiring manager, your cover letter is a strategic way to stand out in the saturated job market. The cover letter is your first opportunity to help recruiters and hiring managers to understand if, how, and why you are the right person for the company and role.
4 Steps for Writing an Effective Cover Letter
Here are four steps to write an effective cover letter:
1. Begin with what drew you to the company and position.
Start your cover letter off strong by including what drew you to the company and the position you are applying to. This not only shows the recruiter you intentionally applied to their opening but also why you are a fit for that specific requisition.
Be careful with length here. You do not have to go on for paragraphs. Highlight one to two key points in just a few sentences. Share what exactly about the company and position drew you to submit your application for consideration.
While brevity is key to a successful cover letter, avoid being vague with your reasons of interest. Your reasons need to be specific enough that you can not use the same reasoning for wanting to work for Facebook that you could at LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, for example.
Customizing the introduction of your cover letter will take a little time, but it is one of the few aspects of your cover letter that you need to customize for each job application.
2. Highlight what sets you apart from other job applicants.
With a clear, punchy introduction of why you are the perfect fit for the requisition completed, it is now time for the body of your cover letter. A lot of job seekers use the body of the cover letter as an opportunity to summarize their resumes. This is a mistake. Simply rehashing your experience, accomplishments, and skills not only makes your cover letter unnecessary but is also a missed opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Leverage this valuable career real estate to make a powerful first impression and help the recruiter put you in the “yes!” pile. You can do this by using a handful of bullet points to clearly explain what sets you apart from other candidates. You can also be as bold as to say, “Here is what sets me apart from other [Role you are applying to],” then include three main points, backed by documented proof from your career.
As you write the core of your cover letter, remember to be specific with stories and examples from your career. Inject numbers, percentages, and factoids where appropriate and helpful.
3. End with a clear call-to-action.
It is true that you only get one first impression. It is also true that you only get one last impression. Avoid the mistake of ending your cover letter with a passive statement about your interest in the company and availability for an interview. Or, even worse, do not be the job seeker who forgets to include their contact information.
Use the final few sentences of the cover letter to thank the recruiter for their time and consideration. Also, use this space to reinforce your experience and interest. Harness the power of assertive communication to share you are confident and ready for an interview. This may look like:
“You may reach me at [phone] or [email] to arrange my interview.”
4. Consider a testimonial to set you apart from other job seekers.
While you can say you are fabulous, it is much more convincing if a current or former colleague or client describes your fabulousness, their working relationship with you, and the results you deliver.
In this article, I share three effective ways to add personality to your resume, including the use of testimonials. Consider including a testimonial in your cover letter to highlight your personality and provide the recruiter with social proof. You can include the testimonial at the top of your cover letter, in the body of the letter, or right below your sign-off.
With these cover letter tips in mind, you are ready to make a great first impression. Go out there and share what makes you fabulous. You’ve got this!
Kyle Elliott, MPA, CHES is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. As a result of working with Kyle, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and nearly every other Fortune 100/500 company you can think of. They have also found happiness.