Many employers request cover letters along with your resume. Formatting your resume is relatively self-explanatory, but what exactly are they looking for in a cover letter?
If done correctly, a properly formatted and crafted cover letter can grab the recruiter’s attention and give you a leg up over the competition.
Follow these guidelines to provide your future employer with the necessary information to make you the best candidate, based on the information you provide in your cover letter.
1. Address your cover letter to the hiring manager
In other words, if at all possible, avoid the phrase “to whom it may concern.”
This generic catch-all phrase is one of the quickest paths to the recycle bin. If the recruitment doesn’t specifically name the recruiter or hiring manager, be sure to do your homework and reach out to the company to find out this information.
It’s essential to set yourself apart from the hundreds of applications a recruiter is going to receive. Start by addressing them by name rather than a generic template.
2. Use clear and succinct language
Leave the dictionary and thesaurus at home; no one is impressed by fancy language they have to look up.
Avoid overly technical language unless you’re specifically applying to be a rocket scientist or recently found the cure for cancer.
Write in plain language, with proper grammar, and be sure to formulate your letter in a professional yet courteous manner.
3. Avoid a copy and paste template
Let’s be honest, the majority of people who submit their cover letter typed in “cover letter template” into Google and picked the first one they saw. With hundreds of cover letters being sent to a recruiter, be sure to follow the proper cover letter format as requested by the company – but avoid boilerplate letters.
To make things worse, many candidates will also keep much of the same language in a cover letter template, which results in many similar cover letters being submitted. If you need a template, use it for the structure and not for the content.
4. Use your cover letter to expand upon your resume, not restate it
Your cover letter should be the icing on the cake for your professional resume. Rather than restating what is already included in your resume, use the cover letter to explain not only why your qualifications make you the best candidate but how they have helped you in the past.
Use real-world experiences to accentuate your skills and abilities and how your previous experience will benefit you if you gain employment with the new organization.
5. Specifically address the company, and answer any questions
Failing to follow basic instructions is a sure way to ruin any chances of impressing your recruiter. If the position requires a cover letter, there will be a set of instructions that spell out precisely what the recruiter wants to see in the cover letter.
Be sure to address every point requested if you’re going to stand out. If you fail to meet these basic requirements, you can bet the recruiter will not give your resume a second glance.
6. Spell check and grammar are key
First impressions are crucial, and turning in a cover letter with spelling and grammar mistakes will quickly ruin your chances. You would be surprised how many candidates forget to hit the spell check button before turning in a professional resume and cover letter.
Do yourself a favor and make sure to double-check your spelling and grammar before turning in any letter that reflects who you are to a potential employer.
7. Close with confidence
Finally, close your cover letter with a great closing paragraph that wraps up your passion, motivation, and ability to bring value to a future employer.
Use your closing statement to put the icing on the cake as to why you are the best candidate and how you will use this opportunity to expand upon your skillset and further the company’s mission.