In the age of texting, tweets, Slack threads, and Zoom interviews, job hunters may wonder if the cover letter is a dusty relic from an ancient past (like when phones had cords, and people felt safe shaking hands) or if a tight, snappy cover letter carries any weight.
Spoiler alert. Studies show that cover letters are still a significant factor in assessing potential hires.
But as anyone who has ever stared at a blank page knows, writing a cover letter that grabs the attention of hiring managers, swiftly spells out all that you offer, and makes the reader think “I need to hire this person” – is no easy feat.
This week, Career Craft asks five hiring experts for ideas on making your cover letter irresistible.
Please don’t waste my time. Grab my attention with an opening line that is authentic and tells me your story. Without a real first impression, this could be your only shot, and you have to set yourself apart from the rest. Whether it’s why you think the company is a great place to work, how much you think you can learn, perhaps a mutual connection recommended you, get me to look twice. And DO NOT cut and paste. Make it personal any way you can.
The Write Stuff
A get-hired, job-winning cover letter will always communicate the value you bring. Follow this sure-fire six-step formula to grab the hiring manager’s attention: (1) Identify an industry-specific problem; think of challenges facing the industry right now. (2) Write an attention-grabbing introduction; make an emotional connection with the hiring manager by showing your enthusiasm and passion. (3) Be conversational and personal. (4) Demonstrate problem-solving and solution skills; communicate one of the top in-demand soft skills. (5) Ask for the job interview; be polite and specific in your request. (6) Pass the value-added test; your cover letter must answer the “what’s in it for me” question in the hiring manager’s mind.
Be On Point
As a recruiter that screens hundreds of resumes a week, my favorite cover letters are to the point and are not redundant, no need to ‘gild the lily’ as they say!
Hit the obvious talking points quickly and clearly tie in your selling points that match the job to which you are applying.
Use your thinking muscle, applying to jobs that are a fit, and within your capabilities. If an ad is asking for 10+ years’ experience, and you are a recent college grad, don’t apply.
Short + Specific
To create a compelling cover letter…
- Begin with why you admire the company
- Review the job description and the company’s mission statement
- List what value you will add that mirrors the job post and mission
While recruiting, I read thousands of cover letters. Keeping your copy short and specific will resonate with the reader.
Tell a Story
Today’s cover letter trends seem to show a document that’s a brief but branded story and has the relevant intel to show the applicant has done research on the company. Create a story in your cover letter to compel employers to read your resume and look at your Linkedin profile.