Finding a job is becoming an increasingly difficult task, but not impossible. With almost every open position, there’s greater competition than ever before. Meaning, candidates who want to grab the job need to determine exactly how to package themselves as the best candidate. It’s a personal process that changes with each job, but I’m here to assist. This article will provide tips and ideas for how to catch the eye of a hiring manager, and how to make the most out of every cover letter you write. Hopefully, by following these guidelines you will see great success.
This article will primarily cover the most critical content of a cover letter: The body. In the body of a typical cover letter you’ll have two or three short paragraphs (about 150-200 words) to sell yourself as an ideal candidate. It’s a short amount of space, magnifying the importance of the content included. Look at the job description, and determine what are the most important skills they’re looking for. Lead off the second paragraph with exactly how you’ve acquired skills that match what they’re looking for. Directly state how they apply to the position. If possible, use the exact terminology used in the job description.
Keep in mind your resume may already lay some of this out. It’s important not to repeat your resume. A resume contains what you’ve already done; a cover letter should say what you’ve learned and what you’re capable of doing. As you’re laying out the details of the work you’ve achieved, provide descriptive words that enhance understanding. For example, if you were working under tight deadlines talk about how you “meticulously” and “quickly” completed tasks. This will add some of your personal voice to the letter, which is a key to engage the reader throughout the whole letter.
You’re allowed to editorialize in a cover letter. You can write with some creativity, as long as it remains professional. If you’re applying for an accountant position you could say something like, “I’m a detailed, accurate number-cruncher, whose eyes look beyond the screen to the big desk by the window.” Additionally, you shouldn’t be afraid to boast about the difficulty of your previous work. Write with confidence! No one will hire a person who sounds insecure about their work. Just make sure your references will back up anything you write.
More than likely, you’ll want to focus on one past position that most relates to the one you’re applying for. If you would like to write about more than one position, just remember you’re limited on space. A cover letter should never be more than one-page long, and a lot of space is taken up by formatted introductions and contact information. To exemplify your skills and personality while further concentrating your selling points as a candidate, use a story.
Cover letters shouldn’t read like they were written by a robot. They’re about a living, breathing person who (likely) has unique personality traits. So, utilize a story about a work experience that shows how you handle workplace stress, promotes your leadership abilities, or demonstrates how your previous work is more relatable to the new position than it may seem. You should write in a voice that shows you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished and confident in what you could do in your next position. Use the company name, position title, and information from the job description to show you’re not using the same cover letter for every position.
All of this is easier for me to say, than for you to actually write. It takes time and dedicated thought in crafting a cover letter that exudes confidence and remains humble. To show it’s possible, I’ll tell you how I got my first job out of college.
In my cover letter, I laid out a number of details about the work I put into a college radio station. I talked about turning the station from a little-known oddity into a professional environment where college students flocked to gain experience. It was, in a word, cocky. Obviously, not to a harmful degree. In order to remain humble I included this right after boasting about what I had accomplished, “I don’t want to give you the impression I’m the Lone Ranger. I was also able to collaborate with a team of [people] that all helped make [the station] great.” Looking back, The Lone Ranger was accompanied by Tonto, so it was an incorrect reference, but it worked in giving my cover letter a unique voice.
The point I’m trying to make is, if you don’t have a job that could lead to a career right now, what do you have to lose in being bold? More than likely, nothing. When you close the letter tell them you want to interview for the position. If they read that far, they’re probably considering giving you a call. A cover letter is not the time to be wishy-washy. Write like you deserve the job! You never know, they just might give it to you.
Angie Picardo is a writer at Nerdwallet, a personal finance website that offers advice on topics from job-hunting to finding LAX wifi.
Originally posted 2013-04-25 11:42:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter