There are two little words that inevitably make us all cringe: cover letter. This little document may seem cumbersome to write, but can definitely pack a punch when trying to land that dream job you’ve had your eye on. You may have thought, "What is the point of a cover letter; my resume says it all!"
The point is: your cover letter is your very first opportunity to sell you—to go into more detail about who you are, and why you are after this particular job. In fact, many employers won’t even consider your resume without one. Here are our 11 tips for writing a stellar cover letter.
Tip 1: Show your personality Many candidates make the mistake of being overly formal in their cover letters. You want to sound professional and capable, but also personable, fun, interesting, and engaging. Consider starting with a little anecdote on why you found this particular job posting a perfect opportunity. Give your future employer a glimpse into the awesome person that you are.
Tip 2: Know the biz Nothing gets employers more amped for a candidate than someone who is already passionate about the business. Be authentic, but let them know that you already know a thing or two about their brand. Plus, by customizing your cover letter for each individual company, the hiring manager will know it’s genuine, and that you’re excited and serious about the position. If a little flattery can get you an interview, go for it. Check out these examples.
Tip 3: Use your bragging rights Talking about yourself may make you feel a little…uncomfortable. However, now is the time to make a strong and convincing case for why you are right for the job. Know that it’s ok to boast about your accomplishments, experience, and skills. You’ve worked hard and earned those bragging rights after all, and your future career depends on whether you can express how truly great you are.
Tip 4: Think, "It’s not you. It’s me" Don’t focus on why the company is right for you, but rather why you are right for the company. Let them know what you will do for them once hired. Your resume should be short and to the point, so use your cover letter as a chance to explain what skills you’ve obtained from previous experiences, and how those will transfer to your future role. Don’t ever bring up skills you don’t have, but focus on how you will be essential to their team.
Tip 5: Think outside letter format It is perfectly acceptable to write a traditional three to five paragraph letter. However, a good way to stand out and be memorable is to utilize a unique cover letter format—such as incorporating bullet points, headlines, images, or even a list. Employers appreciate creative thinking, plus a stylized format is more easily scanned—ensuring your main points are not overlooked.
Tip 7: Minimize fluff We live in a world where adjectives (amazing, great, absolutely) and adverbs (excitedly, very, enthusiastically) run rampant. Please minimize those extra "fluff" words that don’t really mean much to hiring managers. Taking a real, honest, and sincere approach will take you a lot further in your career.
Tip 8: Keep it brief Say what you need to within one page. Your cover letter isn’t a regurgitation of your resume. People have short attention spans, especially when they are looking at seemingly infinite applications. Get right to your point, make your witty, clever, and convincing pitch, and make that hiring manager all the more eager to get to your resume.
Tip 9: Address it accordingly The days of the stuffy old "To Whom It May Concern" are long gone. Go the extra mile and find out the hiring manager’s name before addressing your cover letter. Show that you aren’t just sending a mass-produced cover letter to every single job posting out there, but rather this particular job is the one for you. If you’ve exhausted all your options and still can’t come up with a name, try to be more specific than, "Dear Hiring Manager." Try "Dear Creative Services Hiring Manager."
Tip 10: Proofread, proofread…and proofread After looking at something 8,000 times it is so easy to miss a small typo that ends up looking huge to someone reading it for the first time. After you’ve proofed your cover letter (at least 8,000 times), have a few other trusty friends look it over before you send it out, to ensure it is perfect.
We get it: cover letters aren’t the most fun thing in the world to write. But they really don’t have to be so daunting either, if you follow these simple rules. Hey, if it gets you the job you want, it’s worth the time and extra effort.
-- Want to love Mondays? It’s possible when you love what you do. Paradigm is a San Diego staffing agency dedicated to finding the perfect job for candidates like you. We’re connected with some of the most innovative tech companies around, giving our employees that competitive edge needed in today’s job market. We hope to hear from you today, and let's make your career goals happen.