When you are determining if you should write a cover letter, it helps to think about the purpose of the letter. Your cover letter serves as an introduction to you as a professional and enables you to briefly summarise why you are the right person for the job. Think of a cover letter as a written elevator pitch; you have limited time to grab their attention while sharing the right amount of information.
Cover letters are a great way to show that you understand the environment and culture of the company and industry and prove that you’ve got what they are looking for.
So how do you go about writing a cover letter?
To learn about the company, you should start with the company website, LinkedIn account, blog, social media outlets, and any articles about the organization. Getting to know the company can help you understand what the company is trying to do so that you can understand their goals, identify with them, and show how you can add value.
It is easy to create a template for your cover letters to save time, but there is nothing worse than sending a letter that shows you know nothing about the company or worse, you forget to change the company name you list.
Use your first sentence to grab the attention of the person reading it. Communicate how you can help to solve the problems, identify your skills, experience, and achievements. Whatever you do, avoid saying, “I’m applying for the role of XXX.”
If you have a connection that thought you would be a good fit for the position, be sure to mention them. Having a connection can help break the ice or move the process along faster.
If the job position mentions a code or specific wording, you should include it in the subject line. Otherwise, be sure to mention the position title.
Talk about the skills that you have that relate to the position and how you can impact it. Don’t just throw keywords in without a purpose in the hope that your application gets picked up in any applicant tracking software (ATS) – it is possible to overuse keywords.
Use your cover letter to describe additional details that you weren’t able to squeeze onto the single page of your resume. A cover letter gives you the freedom to use full sentences—instead of bullet points—so use them to expand upon your resume points and tell the story of why you’re the perfect fit for the company
Imagine you’re someone else writing a letter about yourself. Think from the perspective of a friend, mentor, or previous employer—someone who would only sing your praises—and then write the letter from their point of view
Have a friend take a look at your cover letter, and ask him or her two questions:
- Does this sell me as the best person for the job?
- Does it get you excited?
If the answer to either is “no,” or even slight hesitation, go back for another pass.
Having extra eyes on it can help catch any errors or typos you may have missed (Hint: Grammarly should be your best friend)
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