“Dear sir or madam, I am writing to apply for the position of … zzzzz.”
Hear that? That’s the sound of a hiring manager trying to slog through a ho-hum cover letter… and nodding off. Don’t allow this to happen to you! Skip the boring intro and catch their attention by following these kick-ass cover letter tips:
Get the basics down. If you’ve never written a cover letter before, fear not – the internet is full of cover letter tips, templates, and samples. Do a quick search for the kind of cover letter you need, like entry level cover letters, and voila! Any search engine will provide numerous websites to help you craft your specific cover letter. However, don’t copy a sample cover letter word for word, rather use it as a guide for the proper formatting and structure required of a professional cover letter.
Customize every letter you send out. Yes, every letter. If you want a company to take you seriously, you have to take the job you’re applying for seriously. Sending a generic cover letter gives the impression that you’re not interested enough in the job to write a personalized letter. Instead of saying “I love ABC Company,” mention a specific detail that you like about their work. It is also a good idea to have the job description in front of you as you craft your cover letter so you can mention the specific qualifications you have that make you right for the job.
Be Yourself. A resume lists your qualifications, but a cover letter can give the hiring manager a sense of your personality and whether you’ll be a good fit for the company. A stereotypical cover letter might include wording like, “I wish to convey my interest in the position,” but does that really convey who you are as a person? Instead of overly polite, flowery wording, write in your own voice, and keep the tone conversational, but professional.
Believe in yourself and your chances. You might be tempted to say something like “I might not be the most qualified candidate, but…” Don’t do it. A cover letter isn’t the place for self-deprecation. Focus on what you can bring to the company, and the positive attributes that make you the best choice for the job.
Be specific. Instead of saying, “I’m honest, hardworking, and creative,” write something that reveals an aspect of your personality and shows how qualified you are. “I’ve been writing a sports column for my university’s school paper for two years, and I’m excited about the opportunity to cover sports for you.”
Keep it short and sweet. If your cover letter is more than one page, edit it down. Nowadays, instead of a paper business letter, many cover letters are sent in the body of an email, or by filling in a box on a web form. If you’re submitting your cover letter this way, stick to three short paragraphs – and be sure to include your contact information in the message.
End with action. “I look forward to hearing from you,” is a weak way to end a cover letter. Instead of waiting around for a response that may never come, be proactive. Let the hiring manager know when you’ll call to follow up–and then do it!
Want a comprehensive guide to the full job hunting process? Check out our article here!