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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Thank you for your time and kind consideration.”
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…”
The upbeat one
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
|||^||Danny Garcia, Marketing Operations Manager at Stacklist|
|||^||Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation|
|||^||Heather Monahan, Workplace expert aka Boss In Heels|
|||^||Lidia Salerno, Human Resources Generalist, Trustpilot|
|||^||Harrison Peters, Adult Dating Entrepreneur|
|||^||Gregor Schellhammer, Managing Director, AbroadWise|
|||^||Sal Stevens, Human Resources Manager, Older Dating|
|||^||Jana Tulloch, CPHR, Human Resources Professional, DevelopIntelligence|
|||^||Hannah Steffensen, GPS Trackit|
|||^||Julie R. Woodard, SPHR, Woodard & Associates, LLC|
|||^||Andrew Hammond, Recruiter, WeLoveDates|
|||^||Jessica Munday, Founder, Real Parent & Real Wedding|
|||^||Julie R. Woodard, SPHR, Woodard & Associates, LLC|
|||^||The Muse: Source|
|||^||Visual CV: Source|