Your cover letter is often the first impression a prospective employer has of you. But what are they really looking for? And what cover letter tips can you use to get you the interview if you don’t know? Don’t worry—our recruiting experts are here to help!
Cover Letter Tips: Why You Need One
Having an example to draw from is an excellent place to start, but before we dive in, it’s good to know why we write cover letters in the first place.
Even if the job posting that piqued your interest does not ask for a cover letter, don’t assume it’s not important. A resume on its own, after all, doesn’t do a great job of telling an employer who you are. If you’ve crafted a good resume, it will contain a lot of point-form facts about your skills and accomplishments, some well-placed keywords, and a thorough briefing on your past work history.
Your cover letter, on the other hand, is an opportunity for you to shape the narrative around who you are and why you are a good fit for the company and the position you are interested in. It allows you to explain gaps in your work history and why you are looking to change jobs. It gives you the chance to imbue your application with a little of your own personality, something that isn’t always evident on your resume itself.
What Does a Perfect Cover Letter Look Like?
Good cover letters include specific elements and follow a particular format. These are the pieces of the puzzle:
1) A good opening/subject line
First impressions, right? Your opening line is, arguably, the most vital aspect of your cover letter. It sets the tone for what’s to come, so your approach is critical.
The opening line should include something that connects specifically to the company. It should never be general or generic. The second paragraph might never change, but your opening speaks directly to the hiring manager, telling them, “this is intended just for you.”
It could be something about the company specifically, your passions or aspirations where the job is concerned, or your love for one of their products – but whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s memorable.
2) The pitch
The pitch area of your cover letter can include why you are considering a career change or transition if that makes sense, but if this isn’t an issue, jump directly to any specific results or achievements that are relevant to the opportunity. You’re selling yourself here, so you need to convince them why they should hire you and not someone else.
3) Your closing line
Here is where you will follow up with “next steps,” as you see them. Some examples might include, “I welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person to discuss what I can bring to this role,” or something similar.
More cover letter tips to remember:
- Always address your letter to a person.
- Be sure to include relevant keywords (you can usually pick these up from the job posting)
- Include all your contact information – email, phone, mobile, and a link to your LinkedIn profile (as long as it’s up-to-date and relevant to the position)
- Keep the layout and the design simple (web-friendly fonts only)