You’ve done your research and found the perfect job to apply for. How do you make your application stand out from the hundreds of others the hiring manager screens? The answer is simple: with a great cover letter.
Cover letters are a great way to make a good first impression with a hiring manager. While resumes are straightforward, cover letters allow you to show your personality. Here’s where you can tell a story about a work-related accomplishment, express your passion for the position and describe why you’re the best candidate for the job.
“Cover letters should be customized to the position you are applying for, not a generic, one-size-fits-all approach,” said manager of talent acquisition Marcy Hamrick. “The hiring manager wants to know why they should pick you over everyone else, so be specific.”
If you’re not sure what to write, one way to approach the cover letter is to ask yourself a few questions. What makes you excited about the job? What job requirements match your experience? How can your skills and experience help the hiring manager?
Once you start writing, keep the letter fairly brief. Three or four paragraphs should be enough to get your points across. After your introductory paragraph, bullet points are a good way to call out specific skills or experiences that match the job description. Don’t repeat your resume here; expand upon it.
“Use the cover letter to talk about a related project you are particularly proud of,” said Marcy. “or if you have experience leading a team, give an example of a time your team performed well. You can also tell a brief story about a problem you solved at work, and how it helped your managers or co-workers.”
Are there any mistakes you can make in your cover letter?
“Just like your resume, your cover letter should be free of spelling or grammatical mistakes,” said Marcy. “If you have a friend or co-worker with strong writing skills, ask them to proofread the letter for errors. Keep the tone respectful, professional and positive.”
Writing a solid cover letter can set you apart from other candidates. Take the time to address the hiring manager’s needs, and make it as perfect as possible. The time and effort you invest could be exactly what gets you an interview.