The cover letter has been a staple of the job search for decades, but some have begun to question its significance. In an increasingly wired and automated world, some job seekers have expressed skepticism about the power cover letters still hold. If you have been one of those skeptics, you might want to rethink your approach.

Unlike your resume, your cover letter is used to express your interest in the position you’re applying for and how your skills are a perfect fit for the job. It’s your chance to convey to the hiring manager why the company would benefit from hiring you versus another candidate.

Your cover letter, even more than your resume, is your opportunity to stand out. Here are three tips to guide you in crafting your most impressive cover letter yet.

 

One Line to Make You Stand Out

Hiring managers might receive dozens or even hundreds of responses to a single job posting, and that means they only have a few seconds to scan each cover letter. With that in mind, you need to make the first few words of your letter count, so put your best foot forward with a memorable opening line.

While the rest of the document is important, it is that first line hook that will convince the hiring manager to keep reading. Make sure that first line shines, and make sure you read and reread it until it is perfect.

 

Company-Specific Language and Information

In the world of automated resume screening and computer-assisted recruitment, a generic cover letter will not do. Make sure your cover letter includes company-specific language related to the job you are applying for, as well as information about the company and what it does. The more you know about the company, the easier it will be to craft the perfect cover letter.

 

Skills Related to the Job Posting

If you want to send your cover letter to the top of the stack, you need to show that you have the skills needed to do the job. Do not parrot back the list of required skills from the job posting, instead sprinkle that information throughout the document.

Lastly, make sure to address your cover letter to the hiring manager or department head instead of using a generalized greeting. Remember that no matter how automated the recruiting process becomes, it’s still a person who will review your credentials and decide on whether to pursue you or not. The more you can customize and personalize your cover letter, the better off you will be.

 

Far from being irrelevant, the humble cover letter is still going strong. In fact, your cover letter deserves the same level of care and consideration you put into your resume. If you are still treating your cover letter as a mere afterthought, it is time to change your ways.

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