5 Ways to Write a Winning Cover Letter
What’s that? Cover letters are a thing of the past, you say? Recruiters only care about your LinkedIn profile? Not so fast. As The HR Digest will tell you, your “cover letter decides who gets called in for an interview and who doesn’t.” The cover letter tests your ability to make an immediate connection, which is a critical business skill.
1) Keep it fresh.
What does it mean to “keep it fresh”? It means you’ve got to hook your reader.
The days of “Dear Sir or Madam” are over. Instead, use more colloquial—but not too informal— language. For example, start out with a simple “Hello” or “Greetings” instead of, say, “Sup, fam?”. While hiring managers and recruiters will appreciate your energetic and human tone of voice, they still expect some level of professionalism—so keep it business casual. Then consider the following hooks, or some variation of any:
- “Let me tell you about the time I fell in love with [Company Name]…”
- “There are many reasons why I’m perfect for this position, but here are the top five…”
- “I know, I know. My work experience seems like a strange fit for this position, but hear me out…”
2) Mix in some personality.
Yes, a little personality goes a long way, but remember: Even though recruiters don’t want to be bored to death by your cover letter, they’re still evaluating your fit for the position. That means your personality should match the position you’re applying for, which should come across in your cover letter. A CFO’s cover letter, for example, will sound much different than a social media specialist’s.
3) Don’t regurgitate your resume.
What’s the point of a cover letter if you’re just going to repeat everything it says on your resume? Use your cover letter as an opportunity to quickly explain:
- How you found out about the job opportunity
- Ways you’ve engaged the company online
- What you can do for the company—not what the company can do for you
And whatever you do—don’t reuse the same boilerplate content for every cover letter. Personalize it with information specific to the company, the position you’re hiring for, and reasons why you’re a perfect fit.
4) Keep it short
Hiring managers and recruiters have a boatload of resumes and cover letters to read; they don’t have the time or wherewithal to comb through a long list of accolades from your adolescence. So, keep it short and sweet. Say as much as you can in as few words as possible. No more than a page. That’s it. Quick and relevant points.
5) Keep it real
Here’s where you explain how awesome you are without bending the truth or bogging yourself down with cheesy buzzwords or industry jargon. Here are some suggestions for sentence structures:
- Point out one of the company’s services and cite examples of your performance delivering a similar service
- Explain a relevant job task that yielded meaningful results in your field, and then briefly describe how you would replicate that success at your new company
- Acknowledge one of the company’s recent blog or social media posts and explain why it encouraged you to submit a cover letter
- Establish a connection with the company’s mission and vision, and then cite specific reasons you’d fit in perfectly with its corporate culture
For more suggestions on how to really crush your cover letter, check out this article from The Muse: Your Complete Guide to Writing a Cover Letter (Plus Bonus Tips and Examples).
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By Stephanie Amos, Senior Recruitment Specialist