A good cover letter can make all the difference when applying for jobs. It’s how the company gets to know you, and it’s the first impression that you make. So, what does your cover letter say about you? Would you hire yourself after reading it? If not, it’s time to get to work. Here are 13 tips on how to write a good cover letter that will help you land an interview.
1. Address the Hiring Manager
Most people are going to address their cover letter “To Whom It May Concern”. Not you. You want to stand out from the rest, and you want to make it personal for the person who is going to read it. If you don’t know who that person is, then you’re going to need to do some digging. Call the company’s main phone number, and inquire about who is making the hiring decisions regarding that particular position. Also, ask about that person’s title within the company. Not only will you be able to personalize the letter, but it will show the hiring manager that you’re willing to go the extra mile. If calling isn’t an option, try researching the company on LinkedIn or their official website.
2. Use a Business Letter Format
Cover letters should be written using a business letter format. Use 10- to 12-point font, and choose a readable one (Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc.). Try to keep your letter to one page with about three to four paragraphs. For the rest of the letter, be sure to follow the guidelines for business letter formatting with your contact information clearly stated.
3. Don’t Restate Your Resume
As you start writing, remember that your cover letter shouldn’t just restate your resume. Instead, it should support your resume and let the company know more about you.
So, you need to go a little deeper. What skills from your resume should you expound on in your cover letter? Are there any qualities on your resume that you should highlight? What can you tell the company that isn’t immediately evident from your resume? Focus on these points for the hiring manager.
4. Tailor It to the Specific Position
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when applying for jobs is that they creating a one-size-fits-all resume and cover letter. Your resume may work for multiple companies, but this probably won’t help you stand out to the particular company that you want to hire you.
Reread the job description, and make a list of keywords or phrases that you could infuse in your cover letter. Then, think about why the company should hire you for this position. How will this position help you with your career goals? Tailoring your resume and cover letter for the specific job and company will show that you truly are the right fit for the job.
5. Be Specific
Your cover letter is the time to brag about yourself. To do this, use specific examples and data to support your claims. This could be the actual budget that you had to work with, the amount of money you raised, the percentage of times you met your goals, or the number of people that you supervised on your team.
6. Tell a Story
Maybe the hiring manager shifted through hundreds of applications, scanned through tens of resumes, and now has several cover letters to read. To stand out, you need to do more than just talk about your accomplishments. Try telling a story. Use stories to illustrate how you demonstrated your diligence as an employee or your organization skills. This is going to be more interesting, and can help the hiring manager understand the difference that you can make for his or her company.
7. Demonstrate Your Professional Knowledge
What do you know about the company to which you’re applying? What challenges do they face? How can you help them accomplish their goals and improve their business? By discussing these points, you can show that you’re knowledgeable about the industry and the company. It will also help you show the value that you could bring to their company.
8. Use Phrases That Stand Out
As you strive to impress the hiring manager, be careful about how you talk about yourself. Some phrases are used frequently in resumes and cover letters, and may not help you stand out from other applicants. Some of these phrases include:
- People person
- Hard worker
- Good communication skills
Even if you possess these qualities, consider using a different phrase that will set you apart.
9. Discuss the Gaps in Your Resume
Were you unemployed for an extended period of time? Did you take time off to raise a family? Were you spending time traveling or going back to school? Gaps in your resume may be a red flag to hiring managers. Fortunately, you can use your cover letter to discuss these gaps in a positive light. Let the hiring manager know why the gap occurred and how it helped you become the type of employee they want to have.
10. Show Your Personality
The cover letter is your way to introduce yourself. What will the company know about you after reading it? Although you want to appear professional, it’s okay to infuse your voice into your letter. Let the company get a taste of who you are and what your personality is like. You just need to strike a good balance between a professional tone and a more personable one.
11. Don’t Neglect the Conclusion
When you get to the conclusion, don’t slow down. The conclusion is the last thing that the hiring manager will read, so you want to end on a high note. Make sure that he or she will remember you. To do this, you could restate your main points. Make it clear why you are the right person for the job.
12. Remember to Proofread
After you’ve completed the letter, you need to reread it for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. A spelling error will look unprofessional and could even leave a bad impression on the hiring manager, depending on the position.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to discover errors in your own writing. It’s a good idea to have someone else proofread your work for you, too. Find someone who can provide constructive criticism. Having fresh eyes read through it will help you get another perspective, so you can make sure your letter is the best that it can be.
13. Sign the Letter For a Personal Touch
If you’re submitting a physical copy of your cover letter, don’t forget to sign it. But because most cover letters are emailed or submitted online now, signing the letter isn’t always possible, or necessary. However, if you are submitting the letter as a file, you can still consider including your signature for a personal touch. Try uploading your signature and adding it to the end of your letter. Not only will this follow the business letter format, but it will also look more professional.
If you have trouble uploading your signature, you could always print out your cover letter to sign it. Then, scan it back into your computer. Save it as a PDF, so the hiring manager won’t have any issues opening it on his or her computer.
How to Write a Good Cover Letter: Final Thoughts
Before you can get your foot in the door for an interview, you need to know how to write a great cover letter that will impress the hiring manager. Think about like this: Your cover letter needs to introduce you to your potential future employer. What do you want them to know about you? Why are you the right person for the job?
As you craft your cover letter, don’t forget to consider proper grammar and punctuation. What your cover letter says is important, but so is how you say it. For even more tips on how to write a great cover letter that will properly represent you to the hiring manager, don’t forget to check out our video lessons!