Starting a job search right now may feel overwhelming, especially given the current climate and competitive job market. As things begin to recover, recruiters are being bombarded with hundreds of applicants with similar skills and experiences for each open role. Job seekers will need to use every avenue available to stand out from the competition.
How will you land that interview? While many will focus on rearranging the same information on their resume, you should take a look at your cover letter. If recruiters are only spending around 20 seconds scanning for keywords on each resume, your cover letter may be your best shot at showcasing your skills. Use your cover letter to speak to your experience in a way that directly connects you to the role and the company’s current need.
Go beyond your resume
A resume is used to document and summarize your background, accomplishments, and skills. It is very straightforward and does not leave much room for explanations. If you have an employment gap, poor tenure, or outdated skills, a recruiter will not be able to decipher the reasoning behind those negative items. Your cover letter, however, can address these and turn them into positives. That less than stellar tenure can be shown as a value when that recruiter reads of the transferable skills you’ve acquired that can be applied to their opportunity. Here is where you use your cover letter to make the connection between your skills and the pain points the hiring manager may be experiencing. If he or she can see their job getting easier with each word, you are on the right track.
Show you are a culture fit
Recruiters and hiring managers are not just looking to see if you can do the job. They also want to know if you will fit into their team. How will you work within their environment? Use your cover letter to speak to a time when you have been successful in a team similar to theirs. Time is limited. Make it easy for them to see the connection. Give them a reason to want to call you before even reading your resume.
Bring on the value
Now more than ever your cover letter should be used as your personal sales pitch. Dive into your professional brag bank and pull out the value. What benefit can you bring to the company? Identify the traits that their ideal candidate would possess. When writing your cover letter showcase the times that you demonstrated those traits. The easier you make your recruiter’s job, the more likely you are to be sitting in that interview chair.