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Writing the Best Cover Letter for Job Application to Land Your Dream Job

Writing the Best Cover Letter for Job Application to Land Your Dream Job

Most hiring managers are busy. Before the hiring process even begins, they are likely juggling too much. When they get to the point of being ready to bring on new talent, they must then juggle the recruitment process with their day-to-day responsibilities.

To allow the process to run as smoothly and quickly as possible, hiring managers sometimes enlist the support of a recruiter or the human resources department.

Prior to the beginning the search process, the hiring manager will share a list of attributes and desired skills they want prospective candidates to possess. The recruiter or human resources representative will then quickly narrow candidates by reviewing resumes, cover letters, referral documents, social media profiles or through screening interviews.

I have been a hiring manager for 16 years, and over the course of this time, I have reviewed thousands of cover letters. Most have been dull, but some have been captivating, inspiring me to give the candidate a closer look.

To ensure you stand out from the crowd, I recommend you these 8 tips for the best cover letter for job application to land your dream job:

1. Read the Application Guidelines

While most positions require a cover letter, some employers will explicitly tell you what they want to see in the cover letter.

For instance, some companies will ask you to document relevant experience, and some may ask you to detail how you might approach your initial 90 days with the company.

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The point is there is no such thing as a standard cover letter, so read the guidelines or application instructions thoroughly before you begin crafting your cover letter.

2. Avoid Making the Letter All About You

As much as you want and need to highlight your accomplishments, the cover letter should be a good blend of who you are and what you can offer.

You want to quickly summarize relevant experience, while also speaking to how your candidacy and employment will meet the company’s needs now and in the future.

3. Acknowledge Why You’re Interested in the Company, Not Just the Position

Everyone wants to be wanted for who they are, not what they can offer. Companies are no exception.

Culturally-aware executives want to hire people who have a genuine interest in the company’s mission, not just the vacant position.

Many companies place a higher premium on mission-alignment than they do on talent. This is key because a talented person who does not buy-in to the company’s mission and vision will ultimately become a hindrance to growth and may adversely impact the company culture.

Further, the danger of coming across as “just looking for a job” is hiring managers have no indication how long you will stay with their organization.

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Most managers want to gamble on someone who they reasonably believe will remain with their company for a minimum of a couple of years, but much longer if possible.

4. Speak to What You can Offer to the Company

The cover letters that catch my attention are the ones that speak to what a person can bring to my company.

While I am interested in candidate’s background, I am also interested in the value-add they bring to the organization. If a hiring manager wants a list of accomplishments or work history, they can scan the resume.

The cover letter should offer a broader glimpse into the candidate and what they offer the organization.

5. Mirror the Company’s Language

Prior to drafting a cover letter, go through your prospective employer’s website. Check out their press releases, annual reports, white papers and other material to get a sense of the language they use and how they talk about their work.

Once you understand or have a good sense of company vernacular, begin working on your cover letter. Mirroring the words and phrases the company uses signals that you understand the industry you are seeking to enter which is a bonus for many employers.

6. Customize Your Letter

If you are mirroring the language of the company to which you are applying, you will need to tailor or customize your cover letter.

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Customizing your letter gives it character. If you use a standard template for cover letters, the lack of effort you invest in presenting yourself to the prospective employer will show.

More serious candidates who take the time to write customized letters will undoubtedly have the upper hand.

Besides, there is nothing worse than using the same standard letter for all openings, only to mistakenly send the wrong letter to the wrong employer. The bad impression may be impossible to overcome.

7. Copy-Edit Your Letter

It is essential to copy-edit your cover letter before submitting it for a position. This is one of the easiest things to overlook, and it is one of the fastest things that will cause you to be disqualified during the screening process.

When hiring managers, interview screeners are reviewing multiple candidates, they look for quick and easy ways to narrow the applicant pool. Many will set aside a resume, cover letter or writing samples with errors on them. And they rightly should.

If you don’t exercise attention to detail in catching typos or grammatical errors when applying for a position, a hiring manager has no reason to believe you will apply diligence once employed with them.

8. Include Contact Information

Once you write a compelling cover letter, make it easy for the hiring manager or recruiter to contact you.

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In your signature, include your phone number and email address. In the event, your cover letter is separated from your resume, the recruiter will not have to go digging for how to find you.

9. Put the Letter Away for a Day or a Few Hours

Without fail, I am always surprised by how much my writing improves when I take the time to put my writing away for anywhere from several hours to a day or more.

I catch typos that I inadvertently missed during the initial review, and I find new and more succinct ways of making my point. I can cut extraneous words and phrases, which results in punchier lines and more impactful sentences.

Cover letter writing is no exception. Try to write your cover letter and put it away for a minimum of a few hours and a maximum of a couple of days. You will not regret how distance improves your copy.

The Bottom Line

While it may appear there is a lot to do prior to submitting cover letters, the bottom line is to apply as much thought and attention to detail as possible.

Doing this will place you several steps ahead of the competition positioning you to land the dream job you have always imagined.

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

More by this author

Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and trainer specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, underlined, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to master effective goal setting and have an aim in mind before you get on with the process. Luckily, this goal setting guide is here to help.

Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you because all the following information has you covered.

Today you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

What Are Goals?

To kick off our goal setting guide, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

A goal is basically your aim for the relatively long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals[1].

Objects vs goals for goal setting

    Let’s say you want to learn a new foreign language. Your goal is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and learning aims, are the objectives.

    Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

    However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

    Why Is Goal Setting Important?

    Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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    Well, if that’s what you want to do in your life, go ahead, but if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, goal setting is necessary.

    Being committed to a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results[2].

    Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

    Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity in the right regard.

    Types of Goals

    Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting guide.

    These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.

    Time-Based

    One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

    Daily

    There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

    Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

    Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

    Short-Term

    Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, these are aimed for the near future.

    The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have an idea of how much the situation can change. That is unless, of course, something extremely unpredictable happens, the chances of which are quite slim.

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    Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

    Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

    Long-Term

    Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

    Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

    Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

    There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

    They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

    Life-Based

    Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

    Career

    Like all humans, you will always want to succeed and excel in your career. No one wants to stay where they are forever.

    Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal.

    You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

    Personal

    The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

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    From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal.

    Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, get married, or have children, all these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

    How to Set Goals

    The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way.

    SMART Goals

    Every goal you define has to be smart[3]. No, we don’t mean the adjective. We’re referring to the acronym here.

    SMART stands for:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-Bound

    In summary, your specific goals should be very well defined. They shouldn’t be generic or broad, and every detail should be clarified. 

    If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

    There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

    Some Rules

    Whenever you’re working your way through this goal setting guide, keep a few things in mind.

    First and foremost, prioritize your goals. Things that you want to achieve the quickest should be worked on first.

    Don’t act in a way that is self-centered. There are people around you who will be affected by the things you do. Keep them in mind when defining goals.

    Lastly, do not let yourself forget the bigger picture. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

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    I also recommend you to watch this video to learn 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

    How to Reach Your Goals

    You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

    Tactics

    One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Create an action plan and focus on one thing at a time.

    Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it way easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

    Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

    Tools

    With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

    Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

    Bottom Line

    In conclusion, using a goal setting guide is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

    Try out the tactics and tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

    More Tips on Achieving Success

    Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Smart Insights: The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?
    [2] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
    [3] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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