8 Tips to Write a Great Cover Letter

A cover letter says a lot about you. This is why a boring cover letter will easily land you in the “No Pile”. You can hardly blame the hiring manager for this as they have their cut out for them and it is honestly difficult sifting through 100s of resumés for a single opening. You only get a few seconds to make a first impression using your cover letter. They allow the hiring officer to hear your voice and see the highlights of your profile shortly and crisply. A successful cover letter effectively communicates your skills and personality and how they are a match for the company’s present requirements and this is exactly what the officer looks for.

Follow these eight tips from hiring experts if you want to write a cover letter that will score you an interview.

1.     Be Yourself

You only have a few seconds to impress the person looking over your cover letter, so you do not want to sound like everyone else and bore him or her. Incorporate the traits of your personality that will say how you fit into the company. "One key thing we look for is whether they've incorporated aspects of their personality into examples of how they would succeed in this position," said Margaret Freel, corporate recruiter at TechSmith Corp. Personalize your cover letter by mentioning the experiences you have that qualify you for the particular position. Be concise and self-aware enough to know how your history is unique and be able to relate that back to the role you are applying for.

2.     Do your Research and Customize it

We have already read from various sources that you have to tailor your resumé for every job you are applying for. Similarly, cover letters should also be tailored for the role and the company. Instead of copying a friend’s cover letter and tweaking it to your requirement or using a template you can download from the internet, use industry-specific language to reference highlights from your profile to match the job description and points from the website. If you can, find the name of the hiring manager and address the cover letter to them, as this is a sure-shot tactic to set you apart. This shows that you have done your research and are truly interested in working with them. If you are unable to find who that person is, use a generic salutation but only as a last resort.

3.     Be Creative

The person who is tasked with screening your resumés is not going to read the whole cover letter. Hence, the key is to not bore them from the first line itself. The first thing off the bat should be a strong intro that highlights your experience, years of work, or something specific from the job posting, according to Chaz Pitts-Kyser, founder and author of Careeranista. Hiring managers pay even less attention to your cover letter than they would to your resumé. Hence, do not start with “I am applying for the position and such and such”. Instead, use a story or a personal anecdote that connects you to the company through their mission statement or a product.

4.     Mention Referrals

If you were connected to the hiring manager through a mutual friend, an industry contact, or an employee in the company, be sure to mention them in your cover letter with their permission. The cover letter is the only place before you can meet the interviewer where you can name-drop a person who can vouch for skills.

5.     Address Potential Resumé Concerns

A well-crafted cover is more than just your greatest hits, i.e., why you are a great candidate and how you are the right fit for the job applied. A cover letter is also a place for you to explain items and issues in your resumé such as gaps in your employment history or the credibility of your degrees or diplomas.

6.     Don’t just Repeat your Resumé

While the function of your cover letter is to reference material from your resumé, it should not be a word-by-word repetition of your qualifications and experience. Use that space to address the various items on your resumé from a different angle in a way that shows how you are the perfect match for the job. Write the letter so that it also acknowledges the requirements of the role and culture of your organization, while explaining how your skills align with the job description.

7.     Proof-read and Fact Check

As is for any other formal written material, your cover letter, and resumé for that matter, must not contain any sort of mistakes, grammatical or factual. This is your one chance to create a first impression and even the small errors, such as spelling mistakes, formatting issues, or typos, can create a bad impression.

8.     Keep it Brief

Skimming through a few hundred resumés is not an easy job. The last thing the hiring managers need is to read a long-drawn-out cover letter, which will most likely be rejected without a second glance. Keeping your cover letter short, crisp, and concise will only improve its chances to be read and your chances to be called for the interview.