The ‘Secret Sauce’ to Cover Letters
You are applying for a job and you’re just as determined as all the other candidates to get this job. How can you make your resume stand out and really speak to the employer over the tens or hundreds of resumes they suffer through each day?
It all ends with your cover letter. What many people do not realize is that cover letters are typically read second after proving whether or not you qualify based on your skills from your resume — why read something if you don’t have to when you have a stack to get through? Liz Ryan, contributor for Forbes, wrote an insightful article on ‘Ten Good Reasons to Stop Writing Cover Letters’ but others feel that this would do you a great disservice. And, even Liz is suggesting to use a “Plain Letter” format to convey something the resume simply cannot. Why? Other say, this is your opportunity to make yourself stand out above the ‘other guys’ and prove how you’re going to make their company better.
So how can you make your cover letter better than your competition?
Lisa Siva and Sara McCord both agree you begin by addressing an issue the company likely has and how you have the expertise to solve that issue.
Lisa Siva gives a great example of this in ‘The Cover Letter Formula That Skyrocketed My Interviews From 0% to 55%’ when she opened her cover letter by saying:
“As a veteran of Details.com and Vs. Magazine, I’ve seen how crazy fashion month can get.”
Siva was applying for fashion magazines and this greatly appeals to those in the industry because fashion month is their busiest time of year and then she’s expressing she has experience with this hectic time.
Your opening line needs to be based on how you’ll help make the company successful, not based on your desire for a job.
Now you need to focus on what your skills are, and don’t you dare go into the list format. That’s incredibly boring and impersonal. Like Jenny Foss states in her article, ‘The Cover Letters That Make Hiring Managers Smile (Then Call You)’ that, “rules can be bent…and they should be.” She also talks about the success she’s had using a conversational tone in her cover letters. It’s a good idea to use personal stories on how you’ve used those certain skills and how they were beneficial to your last company. This is a much better way to discuss your skills rather than just by laundry listing them.
If you are really determined to get a job, you want to make sure that you end with an awesome cover letter. You have special talents that the company is looking for and you need to show them in a way that no one else is going to.
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Do you agree that cover letters are important? Tell us of any cover letter tips that have helped you or any mistakes you’ve made.