It’s often taxing enough that you have to write a near-perfect resume to stand out from a crowd in a job application. It can get even more burdensome to include a cover letter that will impress the hiring manager and land you the job. But is writing a cover letter really that hard? Is it even necessary? Many of us know that it’s not always practical to send in your CV and include a cover letter when applying for a job online. But some experts agree that it’s probably important to include a cover letter when applying for a job. Let’s find out how to do it.
The Opening should address the Hiring Manager
Addressing the person in charge of hiring is essential for any good cover letter. You want to make sure you address the hiring manager using their first and last name. Here, you want to find out if the company is strict or casual. That means you get to choose whether to address them using “Mr. or Mrs. – if the company is strict. If the company is casual, you can drop the etiquette and address them as “Dear Jane Doe” or “Dear John Doe.”
But you should not use generic salutations like “Dear Sir or Madam.” These are not only archaic and annoying, but they also fail to observe the number one rule of cover letters, “be specific” – customize your cover letter. For instances where the hiring manager’s name is not specified, you can address the letter to the departmental head of the job you’re applying for or say “Hiring Manager” in your salutations.
Grab the Hiring Manager’s Attention with your opening
Hiring managers are not paid based on how many resumes or cover letters they can read through in a day – they are pretty busy and don’t have all day. You need to be good to catch their attention. It takes a split second; you have to be crafty. Instead of using the first line to mention your name, use it to capture their attention – they probably already know your name from your resume anyway. You can go straight to the point by mentioning the job you’re applying for. You can talk about your excitement to work with the company. You can also mention how your passions are directly connected with the job you’re applying for.
If you need inspiration, you can seek help from a cover letter service that will walk you through different examples of cover letter openings. A good service should have professionals who can craft perfect cover letters.
It’s a cover letter, not an extension of your resume!
It’s a common error committed by jobseekers to want to repeat what is already in their resume. This repetition will not win you any points with the hiring board. Instead, you should let them know why you are a good fit for the job. You can expand the bullet points in your resume into something coherent regarding your skills and accomplishments. Tell the hiring manager why you’d be the perfect fit for the job and a good employee for the company.
One of the best ways to expand the bullet points in your CV is to imagine yourself as the interviewer. Imagine them interviewing you before they can call you for a real interview. Some questions to ponder about;
- What approach did you take when analyzing past client surveys, as you mentioned in your resume.
- What other details would you include in your story about how you accomplished the task you included in your resume?
- What trait in you or work ethic made you succeed in getting the task you just mentioned done?
What will you bring to the company?
When crafting a perfect cover letter, offer yourself as the perfect serviceman. Tell the company what you can do for them based on what they are looking for. Don’t tell the hiring manager how the position will benefit you. Chances are they already know, or they care more about what you can do for them than what they can do for you. Using the job description, try to understand the company’s pain points – figure out what problems they would like you to solve should they hire you. You can then emphasize the skills and work experience you have that make you the right person for the job.
Only mention relevant experiences
In the same line of being the company’s serviceman, you need to know the experiences and skills that will present you as the perfect candidate. These are usually listed in the job description. If not, try and reread the description and find out the point of emphasis the job ad. Once you find what they are looking for, find the experiences relevant to that and list them.
Pro tip: You can search for what the hiring department is looking for on Wordclouds. Once you find out what stands out, you can use it to list what you can do for the company.
What if you don’t have the experience?
This is another area that often scares jobseekers from applying for their dream job. Don’t be scared. Use your skills to let the hiring manager know what you can do for them. This also requires you to tailor your resume based on skills (use a skilled-based template or functional template). If you have really good comprehension skills, you can convince the hiring manager to consider you for the interview. Again, if you don’t know what the job is asking for, search the entire description to figure it out.
If you have the experience, your education is secondary…
The education section in your resume is very important if you want to have a robust CV for any job. However, for the cover letter, don’t make it your priority to let the hiring manager know how well educated you are. Instead, focus on your work experience. If you don’t have the experience, as we have seen above, find any necessary work experience. It could be volunteer or internship experience. As long as you can show how that will help you deliver, don’t be shy to use it.
Do you really want the job?
As much as we have mentioned the importance of letting the company know what you can do for them, you also need to convey enthusiasm. Sometimes people don’t get hired because they fail to show how much they really want the job. Make it clear that you would cherish the chance to work with the company. Also, make it clear what you’re enthusiastic about regarding the position you are applying for. You can elevate the company’s status in your words. Say something like, “you are the industry leader, and any enthusiastic software developer would cherish the chance to work with you.
Don’t go overboard with your flattery though
As much as you would like the company to know how excited you are to work with them, you also want to go slow on the flattery. Don’t say anything you don’t mean. Authenticity is key. Many job seekers work too hard to convince the company to hire them. It’s understandable; you’re desperate. However, desperation shouldn’t trample professionalism. Being professional even in the face of desperation indicates how mature a person is. Picture yourself in the hiring manager’s position and imagine the kind of tone they would tolerate. If you cannot discern your tone in writing, you can ask someone to review the cover letter for you.
Only emphasize your strengths
Don’t give the hiring manager a reason to doubt your skills and commitment. You can do this by not apologizing for your missing experience. This is another way of avoiding desperation as you write your cover letter. Don’t say things like, “I may not have direct experience in software development, but….” Instead, you can approach it positively and say, “I’m excited to make the experience I have in (what you have done) count in (the position you are applying for).
Make it short
There is a reason the cover letter complements your CV. It’s not meant to do what the CV can do. It should be short enough to interest the reader and just long enough to present yourself sufficiently. Many experts argue that you should keep it below a page. Others argue that it should only be a few sentences. It’s not always easy to know how long a good cover letter should be. You can ask a friend or colleague to have a look and let you know what you should cut out. You can also seek professional help from online services that help job seekers to write cover letters.
Writing a good cover letter can be the difference between landing a job interview or waiting in line. You can make things easier for the hiring manager by crafting something that will get them thinking about you and what you can offer. Sometimes, when you don’t know what to write, it’s okay to seek help from a cover letter writing service. A professional can see things better for you and help you land your dream job.