The hard truth about cover letters: No one likes to write them, and only a few know how to write them right, yet they're incredibly important for your career.
When searching for a job, most job seekers commit the mistake of overlooking the importance of a cover letter.
If you take time to write a quality cover letter and send it along with your resume, it demonstrates to employers your passion for a job position.
With 53% of employers preferring job seekers who send cover letters and resumes, knowing the importance of writing a compelling letter is essential.
In this article, we walk you through various reasons why writing a cover is important for landing a job, explore some tips to write a cover letter, and outline last minute dos and don'ts before you hit the send button.
But first thing first!
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a three-four paragraph application letter explaining your interest in a particular job and your eligibility for the role. This letter highlights your skills, experiences, and achievements regarding a specific position.
Cover letters: Why they're important for landing a job
Apart from being an opportunity to impress employers, a cover letter offers various other benefits, such as:
1. Provides immediate value
When it comes to finding a job, cover letters create a positive first impression, and this impression counts.
A compelling letter gives you the first chance to stand out and differentiate yourself from other job seekers. It highlights your best role-specific strengths and positions you as a potential candidate for any job.
Immediately emphasizing your key skill helps you grab the reader's attention and enhances the likelihood of progressing to the next selection process.
Additionally, as the cover letter focuses on your core competencies, it helps you market your skills and gain the hiring manager's attention.
2. Conveys your story
A cover letter allows you to elaborate on your story before your interview. While it lets you exhibit your qualifications and explain what makes you an ideal fit for the job, these letters inform employers about your current situation.
For instance, are you looking for a new career path or looking for your first job? It also conveys what type of values you might bring to the company.
This helps an employer decide whether you're an ideal candidate.
3. Shows your personality
While resumes speak about your professional qualification, cover letters give insights into your personality. The wordings of your cover letter show your personality in a way that your resume cannot.
Use your letter as an opportunity to show personality traits such as leadership, self-motivation, enthusiasm, and passion.
Cover letter elaborates on your previous roles, success and challenges that you overcame, and why you're seeking a new job.
This lets employers know about your personality and understand whether it aligns with the company's culture.
4. Shows you have done research
Use your cover letter to show employers that you're passionate and serious about the job opportunity.
In your letter, use company-specific examples of why you applied for a particular job and discuss any company's initiatives that align with your values.
This approach sets you apart from hundreds of job seekers who apply for a job without reading the employer's requirements. Employers value well-researched cover letters because it shows your enthusiasm.
5. Shows your writing skills
An engaging cover letter shows employers that you have excellent writing skills. In many positions, employers prefer job seekers who can articulate their thoughts and write them down cohesively.
Your excellent writing skills show your ability to communicate. This ensures effective workplace communication.
What to consider before you write your cover letter?
Before you craft your cover letter, collect all relevant information. Here are a few things to consider before you write your cover letter:
- Think about how your work experience relates to the job you're applying for. Create a list of skills or accomplishments you want to showcase to potential employers.
- Think about the company you're applying for and what drew you to apply to a particular role. Know what you admire about the company, explore its work culture, and research thoroughly to understand whether your long-term goals align with its strategic goals.
- Search about the hiring manager on the company's LinkedIn profile. Think about who you're writing to. If you know the hiring manager's name, address your cover letter to them. If not, consider using ""Dear Hiring Manager ."" With 84% of job seekers not personalizing the salutation on cover letters, doing a little research about them is a great idea to capture their attention.
Tips for writing a cover letter
Use the following tips for writing a cover letter:
1. Use fewer words
With the attention span of humans less than that of a goldfish, the hiring manager is no exception.
The economy of words matters as managers often feel overwhelmed with hundreds of cover letters for a single job opening.
It's best to keep it brief and under three paragraphs for maximum impact.
Start with a captivating introduction showing your passion for the industry and enthusiasm for the job.
The second paragraph is your sales pitch, where you give details about your accomplishments and explain how your experience and qualification relate to the role you're applying for.
Use your final paragraph to express gratitude, thank your potential employer for their consideration, and conclude that you would like to connect with them for a followup with a call or interview.
2. Be proud of your accomplishments
Companies search for confident candidates who love their work and are proud of their previous accomplishments.
They know such people tend to perform better, serve as a more vital team member and have the potential to grow.
Outline examples of previously completed work and what makes you an ideal candidate.
Add a sentence or two about accomplishments you're most proud of without repeating anything from the resume.
Ensure your key achievement is backed up with quantitative data – to create a positive impression. This shows employers what you're capable of achieving.
3. Write a new cover letter for each job
It's much easier to take your cover letter from the last application, change the company's name, and send it off to a new employer.
But employers want to see your motivation behind applying for a job in your cover letter. A generic letter will spoil the party because some of its content might not adhere to the job description.
While you may feel overwhelmed with rewriting a cover letter, use cover letter templates to make the process easier.
4. Never lie in your cover letter
Never manufacture a story, or cook up an experience or credential to impress your potential employer.
One lie begets another; eventually, when you get caught, the results can jeopardize your reputation, trustworthiness, and even employment.
Integrity is essential in every profession; your cover letter should reflect that.
5. Focus it on your future
While a resume reflects your past accomplishments and experiences, your cover letter should focus on what you want to do and achieve.
Consider your cover letter as a bridge between the past and the future, and explain what you plan to do next and why.
Use it as an opportunity to show why you're seeking a career change or a new job, and use it to sell your transferable skills to your potential employers.
6. Use keywords from the job description
Often, employers use applicant tracking systems or ATS to filter resumes and cover letters of potential candidates. This software measures how closely your resume and cover letter align with the preferred skills and qualifications for a particular job.
So, identify keywords from the job description, and if they match your skill set, make them a part of your cover letter.
While writing, review the job description to know the degree, experience, and skills required for the job.
Last minutes do's and don'ts when writing your cover letter
- Proofread your cover letter before hitting the send button.
- Share an accomplishment that shows employers you can address their challenges.
- Be brief and concise.
- Have a strong and compelling opening statement.
- Try to be funny or sarcastic while writing your cover letter.
- Send the same cover letter to all jobs.
- Use flattery to impress employers.
Cover letters give you an edge over the competition
The bottom line of cover letters is that they matter and have a significant role in your job search process.
If you nail your cover letter and create a compelling one, you can easily go from the 'maybe' pile of applicants to the 'yes' pile.