The Cover Letter
Tips for Impactful Content
Though it may seem like your resume holds all the keys to ensuring employment, the truth is that both the cover letter and resume are needed to make an impact. Hiring managers are not looking to add just anyone to the team though. Yes, they want to know that you have the experience but, they are also looking for someone who will be a good fit for the company.
A cover letter is your first impression, the first hello. It needs to have compelling content that tells your story from a specific angle. One that is relevant to the job and the company. They want to know that you want to be a part of their team.
Where to start?
I remember feeling somewhat intimidated by a cover letter. When I first started out looking for work it just seemed so much easier to set up my resume overwriting a cover letter. In a resume, you simply introduce yourself and list what you have done along with your accomplishments. While a cover letter you need to tell them a little more about you. It can be difficult to talk about yourself.
The good news though, there are practical ways to look at it and decide on a process that works well for you. The idea behind going through these tips is so that you may have some information that will assist you in finding the best routine.
Choose the Style
There are a few types of cover letters that change the format slightly, and sometimes the language used as well. If you are applying for a position based on a referral from someone who works at the company you may look at using a referral style cover letter. Sending a hard copy via mail versus sending an email will also change the format and perhaps the tone that you use. Researching the company will give you much of the information you need to understand how to best approach the company. For more on different formats have a look at The Balance Careers article Types of Cover Letters With Samples.
Keep it simple. Your resume already has extensive detail on your experience, education, and even your hobbies. The cover letter is more along the lines of creating interest to view more information. Ensure that your cover letter remains within one page. Though it is not a reason to cram the page with all the information you possibly could. Use the space wisely. Allow for comfortable spacing between paragraphs, greetings and other information.
Three Main Points
First impressions really make an impact in both professional and personal lives. How you open the cover letter is very much your first impression, your first chance to leave a good one. Starting off with a generic greeting can cause the hiring manager to become disinterested quickly. Try finding out the name of the person who reviews the resumes and address the cover letter directly to that person. Follow this with a punchy but professional statement. The opening line is a great opportunity to write something specific to the role, using similar language to the job posting.
- Detailed and relevant experience (with results)
In this section of the cover letter, you will incorporate keywords, skill sets and personality relevant to the position being advertised. Now, when we talk about keywords we are talking about words and general language used in the job posting. These words may be the same or similar to the skills required as well. Be sure to talk about one to three specific skills mentioned in the job posting. Use specific examples of accomplishments relevant to the skills you have chosen. This will help boost your chances as it showcases proven results. Remember to give it that final flair that makes it uniquely you.
- Emphasis and call to action
The last section is an opportunity to emphasize why you are the right person for the role while giving a clear call to action. Encouraging the hiring manager to contact you to speak further. Have a look at the article by Glassdoor on How to Write A Cover Letter.
Customize your Cover Letter
Using a broad-spectrum approach to job searching is less than ideal. Your cover letter is an opportunity to stand out. Adapting your cover letter to suit the role will make each one unique to the application. It gives hiring managers the impression that you are eager to join the team and have something to offer that is different from other applicants.
Make it Look Good
Once you have come to a point where you are happy with the content, length and general message you are conveying it is time to get the layout the same. Deciding on how you would like to display this information will require some understanding of the industry, position you are aiming for and the work environment you are looking for as well. These factors will tell you whether to lean towards the traditional corporate style or perhaps something a little more informal. The way you have set up your resume will give you a starting point. Carrying over elements from your resume will show one concise brand.
I mean, let’s face it, you are essentially trying to sell yourself to the hiring manager and a way of doing this professionally is through an established personal brand. If you would like to know more about personal brand basics have a look at our article Let’s Talk Personal Branding.
For my personal resume, I have included some colour, my monogram and personal accomplishments outside of the workplace. This style is carried over to my cover letters when I am in the market for a job.
Get to Writing
Now that you have an idea of where to begin you can jump into your cover letter. Do not expect it to be perfect the first round, these things take a little time and practice. Each time you apply for a position you have the opportunity to improve on it each time.
This has been a quick look at tips for impactful content in your cover letter and I certainly hope you enjoyed the read while getting some good information.