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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

Let’s admit it, applying for jobs is a time-consuming, and sometimes soul-destroying process. With technology that simplifies the task at hand, we can become a little lazy at the job application game. This definitely does not do us any favours.

Pro Tips from Professionals For A Kick-Ass Cover Letter

Many recruiters still require a covering letter to accompany a CV/resume, and this is your only chance to stand out from the sometimes hundreds of other hopeful, job-hungry applicants. I have interviewed top recruiters and business people who have supplied the very best insider cover letter tips to enable you to be the cream that rises to the top of the applicant pile.

1. Make it personal

Do your research and find a specific person in charge of the hiring process and then address your cover letter to them. It’s much better than a “To Whom it May Concern” or “To Hiring Manager.” — Danny Garcia, Marketing Operations Manager at Stacklist[1]

2. Make it readable

Keep your paragraphs short and easy to understand. It’s intimidating to open a cover letter with two to three GIANT blocks of text.

“I recently received an amazing cover letter that applied someone’s past experience with what we do in our industry. I’d be very impressed if it was a template, because it was so specific. They immediately went on my short list.”

3. Make it quick and specific

Why are you a fit? What does the company do that you love? How can you make a difference? Three quick sentences. If it gets too long and you summarise your career, you’ll lose them. If it’s too impersonal or vague, it will be irrelevant. Be quick, but detailed and relate directly to the company. — Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation[2]

4. Show your passion

Show you want a job from THIS company – not just ANY company. Show you’ve done your research (but really do your research). If it’s a company for which you really want to work, it comes across!

5. Endeavour to stand out

My favorite line is, “Mr/Ms. I know you are incredibly busy and I want you to know you have found your candidate so there is no need to look any further”. The reality is that most hiring managers are interviewing candidates in addition to doing their regular job. When you can swoop in with insider information into why you are the right fit you will rise to the top. — Heather Monahan, Workplace expert aka Boss In Heels[3]

6. Make reference to a familiar peer

The best cover letters include the name of someone you and the hiring manager have in common. By finding someone on the inside to advocate for you, you will advance to a face to face interview quickly.

7. Make it different to your resume

The vast majority of cover letters I receive are completely mundane; typically, these letters rattle off a laundry list of achievements and past work experiences. But here’s the thing – that’s what your resume is for. The last thing any HR manager or recruiter wants to read is your resume in a different format. — Lidia Salerno, Human Resources Generalist, Trustpilot[4]

8. Stay in character

Is the job in the creative industry? Then feel free to be creative. Is the job corporate? You get the picture. Without losing who you are, tailor your cover letter with a voice so perfect that you come across as though you were made for the role. — Harrison Peters, Adult Dating Entrepreneur[5]

9. Don’t overdo it

Don’t overuse all the buzzwords and definitely don’t overdo it, be clear, honest and committed. — Gregor Schellhammer, Managing Director, AbroadWise[6]

10. Follow the instructions

Countless times I have been left frustrated by job applications with information missing that I have specifically asked for. If the applicant can’t follow instructions at this stage, I would doubt they can when it comes to doing the job. — Sal Stevens, Human Resources Manager, Older Dating[7]

11. Be you

It’s best to try to be your true self and show your personality as best you can in a few sentences. I’ve always appreciated a cover letter that gives me a sense of the individual. — Jana Tulloch, CPHR, Human Resources Professional, DevelopIntelligence[8]

12. Be unique

Use your cover letter to show off what makes you unique. A strong cover letter can be compared to a good elevator pitch. It should offer something fresh and unexpected–something that makes you, the “product” being pitched, memorable. If what makes you valuable is a bit unconventional, don’t be afraid to say so. — Hannah Steffensen, GPS Trackit[9]

13. Remember the buzzwords

It is important to keep in mind that in today’s fast-paced and technology-infused market, most large employers are utilizing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to search by “key words” on cover letters and resumes to attract the right talent. Sure, a well-written cover letter can set you apart from your competition if it’s appealing and captivating, but if it has not been sprinkled with key words, it may get overlooked. It is critically important to closely study the job posting or advertisement and incorporate some of the qualifications, attributes and buzzwords into your cover letter. Doing so will increase your chances to getting noticed. — Julie R. Woodard, SPHR, Woodard & Associates, LLC[10]

14. Let your enthusiasm shine

It can be such a dull job to sift through hundreds of job applications. When I come across a cover letter where the enthusiasm shines off the page, and that I simply enjoy reading, I really take note. More often than not, I stick that one on the ‘to interview’ pile. — Andrew Hammond, Recruiter, WeLoveDates[11]

15. Be honest

There are countless times that I have received applications for job roles where I can smell the exageration a mile off. When you embellish and lie your way through a job application, it will only come back to bite you on the butt. Most of the time, the successful applicant won’t have all the skills required anyway (and the recruiter is just being a little optimistic/unrealistic), so don’t be put off applying, but be honest about it. — Jessica Munday, Founder, Real Parent & Real Wedding[12]

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Covering Letters Examples that Landed the Job

The memorable one

“A memorable cover letter for a back-end engineer role started off in standard form but ended with a paragraph of computer code. It was only when I put the letter into a member of our tech team’s hands that we figured out what is said:

This message brought to you by your next all-star developer.

There are times when playing it safe is warranted; I’d never recommend this sort of out-of-the-box approach for a traditional corporate role in most cases. But the best applicants know when to send up a flare to help them stand out from the pack.

And in all cases, quality candidates with good cover letters know how to tell a story that provides a little insight into who they are as a person.”

The dynamic one

“The Marketing Director career opening as advertised on (Advertisement source) has really piqued my interest. If you are seeking to augment your leadership team with an experienced and accomplished marketing professional known for breakthrough results, please consider my resume. I possess over 15 years of marketing and communications leadership and management experience. My core competencies include content generation, data analytics and company branding.

Currently, I serve as the Marketing Manager for ABC Company. For the past seven years, I have been responsible for setting budgets for marketing plans, planning promotional campaigns, initiating market research studies and meeting with clients to provide marketing advice.

In the past, I have worked with Fortune 500 companies where leading marketing operations was my focus. By partnering closely with business leaders, I helped align business goals with marketing strategy. In addition, I possess a proven track record of fostering positive employee relations, communications and enhancing performance management.

I am searching for the right opportunity with a well-established and stable company where I can share my expertise, leadership and “roll up my sleeves” to add value to the company. I am seeking a long-term career opportunity and am excited at the possibility of joining your dynamic team. I am confident in my ability to achieve your expectations and goals as outlined in the job posting.

I may be reached via email at (e-mail) or direct at (telephone number). I look forward to hearing from you to discuss my past work experience and learning more about the opportunity.

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Thank you for your time and kind consideration.”[13]

The confident one

“After spending three years managing the internal communications for a 2,000-person company, I could plan a quarterly town hall or draft an inter-office memo in my sleep. What I want to do next? Put that experience to work consulting executives on their communications strategy…”[14]

The upbeat one[15]

    The brutally honest and self deprecating one

    “My name is (BLOCKED) and I am an undergraduate finance student at (BLOCKED). I met you the summer before last at Smith & Wollensky’s in New York when I was touring the east coast with my uncle, (BLOCKED). I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk with me that night.

    I am writing to inquire about a possible summer internship in your office. I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like (BLOCKED) to intern at (BLOCKED), but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception. I am extremely interested in investment banking and would love nothing more than to learn under your tutelage. I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing. In all honesty, I just want to be around professionals in the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can.

    I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line of crapp (sic) about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you. I’ve interned for Merrill Lynch in the Wealth Management Division and taken an investment banking class at (BLOCKED), for whatever that is worth.

    I am currently awaiting admission results for (BLOCKED) Masters of Science in Accountancy program, which I would begin this fall if admitted. I am also planning on attending law school after my master’s program, which we spoke about in New York. I apologize for the blunt nature of my letter, but I hope you seriously consider taking me under your wing this summer. I have attached my resume for your review. Feel free to call me at (BLOCKED) or email at (BLOCKED). Thank you for your time.”[16]

    The creative one

      “Twenty-year-old Alice Lee used her design skills to create an interactive website, complete with an Instagram stream with the social network’s API. Instagram didn’t end up hiring Lee, but she did get to speak to CEO Kevin Systrom, and Lee’s site eventually led to an internship with another company.”[17]

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      The ‘flattery gets you everywhere’ one

      “Having grown up with the Cincinnati Zoo (literally) in my backyard, I understand firsthand how you’ve earned your reputation as one of the most family-friendly venues in the State of Ohio. For 20 years, I’ve been impressed as your customer; now I want to impress visitors in the same way your team has so graciously done for me.”[18]

      The enthusiastic one

      “It is with great enthusiasm that I submit my application for the position of Sales Coordinator for the Westeros Castle Project. As an administrative professional with over ten years’ experience, I know my diverse skills and qualifications will make me an asset to the Westeros project team.

      As you will see from the attached resume, I’ve built my career in a variety of roles and industries, mostly in small companies where I was not just the admin but also gatekeeper, technology whiz, bookkeeper and marketing guru. I’m not only used to wearing many hats, I sincerely enjoy it; I thrive in an environment where no two work days are exactly the same.

      In addition to being flexible and responsive, I’m also a fanatic for details – particularly when it comes to presentation. One of my recent projects involved coordinating a 200-page grant proposal: I proofed and edited the narratives provided by the division head, formatted spreadsheets, and generally made sure every line was letter-perfect and that the entire finished product conformed to the specific guidelines of the RFP. (The result? A five-year, $1.5 million grant award.) I believe in applying this same level of attention to detail to tasks as visible as prepping the materials for a top-level meeting and as mundane as making sure the copier never runs out of paper.

      Last but certainly not least, I want you to know that I’m a passionate Westeros fan and a longtime supporter of the new castle. I’ve been following the new castle movement since the earliest days of the original “Save the Tombs” campaign, and I am so excited to see this vision becoming a reality. I’ve already checked out the new castle website, and the renderings of the new throne and great hall are stunning, to say the least – I particularly love the vintage murals and art featured throughout the building. Nice touch!

      In closing, I am thrilled at the possibility of being involved in the new castle almost literally from the ground up, and would love the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the value that I can bring to the Targaryen organization and the Westeros Castle Project. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.”

      Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

      Reference

      [1] Danny Garcia, Marketing Operations Manager at Stacklist
      [2] Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation
      [3] Heather Monahan, Workplace expert aka Boss In Heels
      [4] Lidia Salerno, Human Resources Generalist, Trustpilot
      [5] Harrison Peters, Adult Dating Entrepreneur
      [6] Gregor Schellhammer, Managing Director, AbroadWise
      [7] Sal Stevens, Human Resources Manager, Older Dating
      [8] Jana Tulloch, CPHR, Human Resources Professional, DevelopIntelligence
      [9] Hannah Steffensen, GPS Trackit
      [10] Julie R. Woodard, SPHR, Woodard & Associates, LLC
      [11] Andrew Hammond, Recruiter, WeLoveDates
      [12] Jessica Munday, Founder, Real Parent & Real Wedding
      [13] Julie R. Woodard, SPHR, Woodard & Associates, LLC
      [14] The Muse: Source
      [15] Visual CV: Source
      [16] Forbes Source
      [17] Mashable: Source
      [18] Forbes: Source

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      Published on April 16, 2019

      How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

      How Self Care Can Help You Live Your Best Life

      When was the last time you did something for yourself?

      Whether it was deciding to treat yourself with a little something or travel for some R&R, how often do you practice self-care?

      Well, as good as above sounds, there’s a common misconception that many of us have about self-care: that it’s only about indulgence and enjoyment.

      However, self-care goes far beyond indulgence. It’s actually about respecting your mind and body, understanding its limits, and being able to take care of every part of yourself, in a holistic way.

      And, you really don’t have to go to extreme measures or do anything specific–like meditating or following a plant based diet–in order to practice self-care. You just have to make sure that what you’re doing is in your best interests.

      So how can you make that happen?

      Below are a few proven methods that will help you become a better version of you. Follow through with these regularly and you’ll be well on your way to living your very best life.

      Listen to Yourself

      The bulk of self-care is knowing yourself.

      This means knowing your body’s limitations, and being in tune with your feelings, emotions and thoughts. So it’s important, then, to know who you are and what you want to do in life, in order to truly say that you know yourself. 

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      What is your purpose?

      Have you ever thought about this question?

      Your purpose doesn’t have to remain the same throughout your life. What you found a purpose in at age 19 would likely be different at age 49.

      In your current situation, think about the different roles that you have – as a working professional, a spouse, a partner, a parent, etc.

      Do you feel like you are fulfilling your purpose through any of these roles?

      All you have to do is ensure that what you’re chasing is meaningful to you; this will bring focus and motivation as you strive to achieve your goals.

      If you have your purpose defined, then that’s awesome! You know what drives you and why.

      But, if you don’t feel like you have a purpose nailed down, it’s good to start by asking why.

      For example, why are you working in your particular job or industry? If the reason is vague or unclear, then your motivational energy will be the same. In which case, you may find yourself not having a direction for where you’re headed in life.

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      If you’d like to learn more about finding your purpose, then I recommend you check out this article:

      How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

      Seek Out Continuous Education

      Now, this may seem less common when you think of self-care, but lifelong learning is incredibly useful and an important component of taking care of yourself.

      It’s Super Practical

      Lifelong learning is extremely practical these days and does not require as much effort as it may have in the past. Long gone are the days when you could only find information on something by visiting a library. In this day of the internet, anything you can imagine is at your fingertips.

      You don’t need to physically go to a learning institution to learn. You can watch Youtube videos to learn new skills, take online courses to earn a degree, and scroll through an endless amount of articles, books and journals from reputable news and informative sites.

      When you’re constantly pushing yourself to learn and take up new things, your mental health also improves. Research shows that an active and engaged mind is responsible for diminishing age-related memory loss and improves overall cognitive abilities.

      Your Confidence Will Skyrocket

      You’ll also have improved self worth as it teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone, which will undoubtedly improve your confidence.

      You’ll also connect better with others by expanding your knowledge base. Learning exposes you to a multitude of new ideas and perspectives that you may have otherwise never considered. This also increases your adaptability. Whether it’s at work or just wanting to adapt to society, your peers, and loved ones, life long learning prepares you to take on new challenges.

      You’ll Be More Desired in the Job Market

      Another obvious reason for continuous education, is that your employability will also increase.

      With the ever changing economy, and huge influences from technology, social media, science etc., job descriptions today are moving targets. Assignments and roles change so quickly in response to changing business demands, it becomes a Herculean task to keep a job description database current.

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      In years past, stability was a characteristic of the world of work. Procedures, information, jobs, and organizations were established and provided continuity. Education was completed in the first 14 to 22 years of one’s life, followed by a long career occasionally punctuated by short-term job training.

      Today, however, jobs, companies, and technology are disappearing and being created simultaneously. To remain current and maintain a competitive advantage in the human capital marketplace, an individual is challenged to continually learn.

      People return to school at every age to enrich their skills and knowledge for their current positions. Some even prepare themselves for new jobs or career changes, moving them forward into new opportunities and technology.

      We can be assured that we will be challenged to continue to learn new tasks and information throughout our lives. Successful careers belong to flexible, curious learners who are prepared for opportunities because they know themselves and where they make their best contribution. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management stated,

      “Knowledge is choice.”

      Lifelong learning also increases social awareness and perspective. To genuinely understand and empathize with others, increase social awareness, and foster strong interpersonal relationships, it’s important to seek out new perspectives. Enhancing the skills that positively impact emotional intelligence can bring even greater happiness and success, both personally and at work; and, this is all part of self-care.

      Improve Your Habits (Both at Work and at Home)

      Now, the last piece of advice I want to introduce to your self-care regimen, is to improve your habits.

      Habits define who you are, and are built up over time. You are what you eat is a great example of this. If you make it a habit to eat foods that nourish your body, rather than make your body feel bad, then you will be much healthier overall.

      Good Habits Allow You to Reach Your Goals

      Since habits dictate your days and nights, such as waking up every morning to get to work before a certain time, or brushing your teeth before bedtime every night, they play a major role in whether we do or do not reach our goals.

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      When you form habits that allow you to progress towards your goals, you’re automatically living a purposeful day, everyday.

      Habits Make Your Time a Priority

      How do you spend your free time? Do you opt to lounge on the couch watching Netflix passively, or do you engage in activities that support your purpose in life?

      It’s natural to waste a lot of time during the day, but fostering good habits will make you set a pattern for how you spend your time and give you the choice of what you choose to spend your time on. By improving your habits, you’ll find that you can be a LOT more productive. When you create good habits, you become more efficient with your time and a lot less is wasted.

      This in essence creates an overall positive influence on your life, allowing you to treat your mind and body well, which is why improving your habits are so important to self-care.

      Your Well Being Comes First

      We live in such a fast-paced society, where we are often so caught up in our work, families, maintaining our social lives, our studies and everything in between. It’s an understatement to say that life can get a little overwhelming at times.

      If you’ve ever watched the safety video onboard a plane, you’ll know that they always ask for a parent or adult to put on the safety mask first, before tending to the child. This may sound selfish, but the fact is that if you truly want to ensure the child’s safety, then your safety needs to come first so that you can protect and care for the child without complications from your end.

      The same goes for self-care. We need to ensure that our well being is priority, so that we can be the best for the people around us.

      Listening to yourself, practicing lifelong learning and improving your habits are steps that you can take to ensure you’re constantly in the best state of mind, alongside the indulgence and rest that you reward yourself with.

      Featured photo credit: Photo by Raychan on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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