In the incredibly competitive job market of today, every applicant out there is searching for the piece of advice or silver bullet technique which will push you ahead of the crowd and into selection for a position. That single magic trick might not exist – hiring decisions are more complex than that – but you can certainly apply a combination of best practices to make sure your applications are as strong as they possibly can be. One part of the process which about which many job seekers remain uncertain is writing a cover letter. So let’s go over some quick tips on how to write one that will put your resume into the “keep” pile.
Have some structure
Your cover letter shouldn’t be too long – hiring managers have to filter through hundreds of applications for every low level position and their time is limited – so it’s important that the words you do have are all used to maximum effect.
Clearly structuring your message with a statement of intent, description of your capabilities and their relevance to the job, your reasons for seeking the position and a call to action makes sure you’ll hit all the necessary points. Combining this with some simple, astute formatting gives you the look of a professional document and shows an eye for detail and grasp of language which are advantages in any job race.
Research your target employer
Improving your resume and cover letter are all about eliminating shortcomings which make it easy for an employer to single it out and eliminate it from the list they will eventually have to interview. You need to take every opportunity offered you by these short, limited documents to impress them. One way to do so is to do a little Googling of the company you’re applying to and incorporate that research into your cover letter.
Don’t just make your letter out to “Whom It May Concern” – find out the name of the employer’s Hiring Manager and address it to them. Even if they aren’t the ones actually reading it in the end, you show a little diligence and make it seem less like you’ve applied to fifty companies with the same letter. Include specific facts or points about the employer’s business and cite them as reasons for you to seek employment with them specifically. All these little pieces add up to a big impression.
Stay on topic
The overarching theme of this advice is that in writing a CV you have a few words and need to make them all count. Don’t, then, waste half of them discussing experiences irrelevant to the job, your hobbies and favourite music, or pleading with the employer that you really need the gig. Some of these details are better brought up in your resume or in an interview, and some should best be left alone. But your cover letter should be purely dedicated to facts directly relevant to the job and the field of employment you are applying for.
By following these tips you’ll find your cover letter is leaner, more to the point, and can fit in more reasons for an employer to hire you. Remember to at least rewrite parts of it anew for each application - and good luck with the job hunt.