3 Things to Remember When Writing a Cover Letter
When you’re applying for jobs, one key document is your cover letter. Granted, it’s not as important as your resume, and many companies nowadays accept job applications without a cover letter. Still, unless the job listing specifically instructs candidates not to include a cover letter, it’s always best practice to submit one.
Just as with your resume, you need to customize your cover letter in every job application. To make this task easier, create a master copy that you can duplicate and edit to tailor the contents to a specific job description—if you’re applying to similar positions, the general tone and story will remain consistent, with only minor details requiring a tweak.
Obviously, you need to include the name of the company and the role you’re applying for, but you should also incorporate keywords from the job ad. Not only is this crucial for getting past the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) that most companies use today, but it also makes your cover letter stand out when the hiring manager skims it and notes your attention to detail. Your cover letter is your chance to showcase your personality and highlight the reasons you’re perfect for the job, so be sure to match your skills and qualifications to the employer’s needs.
Your cover letter must convince the recruiter reading it that you have the qualities and experience to successfully carry out the duties and responsibilities associated with the role and that you would be a valuable addition to the company, both as an employee and as an individual. You want to stand out from the crowd, so do your research on the company, personalize your cover letter (an important detail here is addressing the hiring manager by name), and focus on making a good first impression that gets you an interview. When you consider how many other people are likely vying for the same position, it’s easier to find the motivation for that extra effort.
If you doubt your writing abilities, get our experts to write a customized cover letter that you can easily tailor with just a few tweaks. You still have to put in the effort, but your job will be a lot easier.
So, how do you craft an impressive cover letter? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Be confident
Your cover letter tells the story of who you are, so aim to control the narrative and the way you present yourself, and do it with confidence. Hiring managers are naturally drawn to cover letters that radiate confidence, so this isn’t the time to be humble. Even if you’re prone to bouts of self-doubt, concentrate on finding your confidence and channel it into your cover letter.
What’s your area of expertise? What are you passionate about? What have been your most challenging and most rewarding professional moments? What do you hope to accomplish if you get this job? Consider carefully how you want to come across and what skills you showcase, making sure they align with what you claim you can contribute to the company. Whatever you write has to be true—if you’re caught lying, you definitely won’t get the job.
Remember: One of the most important qualities a candidate can have is confidence in their qualifications, skills, and experience—if you don’t believe you can do the job, you can’t expect anyone else to believe it. However, be careful not to go too far and cross the line into arrogance. Ask friends or family to read your cover letter and judge whether your tone is appropriate.
2. Be clear
Don’t attempt to highlight your accomplishments through hyperbole, long-winded descriptions, or clichés—be direct about who you are as a person and a job candidate. If you’re not confident in your abilities, you may feel inclined to resort to verbal flourishes, but all this does is obscure the information the hiring manager wants and make you look like a poor communicator.
Focus on fact-based statements that back up the skills and experience listed on your resume and highlight your professional accomplishments. Mention any awards you’ve won or special recognition you’ve received, and use facts and numbers that support your claims rather than vague statements about your responsibilities and achievements. Cite real-life examples of your skills and achievements wherever possible since these lend much more credibility to your claims. However, be careful not to include any data that constitutes confidential company information—stick to percentages rather than precise figures.
You can’t expect the hiring manager to read your mind or even read between the lines, so use clear language and be explicit about how you can fulfill their requirements. Clarity is the hallmark of good writing, not fancy vocabulary and pretentious structures. These are busy people you’re dealing with, so tell them without any ambiguity what your goals and qualities are, what you hope to learn, and how you expect to grow in the role.
The reader can only know what you tell them about yourself, so make every word count as you paint an accurate picture of yourself. Besides, since your cover letter shouldn’t be more than a single page in length, you have limited space—use it to pack in as much meaningful information as you can without sacrificing writing quality.
3. Be concise
Some people can get carried away with descriptions and details when trying to make a point about their awesomeness, but in this case, it’s important to keep it short and concise. A cover letter should have clear sentences that quickly get to the point and tell the reader what they need to know without going into excessive details or backstories—you can discuss those during the interview. Obviously, you don’t want choppy, robotic sentences devoid of personality, but you don’t want flamboyant prose, either. Good writers use clear, concise, and engaging language.
Also, don’t be vulgar or overly familiar—this is still a professional document we’re talking about. That said, dry or too formal is not a good look, either—a cover letter like that will read like a generic statement rather than a window into your personality. Make it sound like you, but be sure you tap into your professional side. Keep in mind that this is the first impression of you the hiring manager will get, so consider how your letter makes you sound.
It can be hard to paint a verbal picture of yourself on a single page while trying to strike a balance between professionalism and individuality, but with confidence comes the certainty of who you are, what you have to offer, and what you expect in return. So, do your research on the company and the job, learn as much as you can about the industry, and stay focused on your professional destination. If you need to cut out certain details to make the rest of your cover letter better, that’s okay. It’s a full package—the tone you adopt and the way you format the letter are, in some ways, just as important as the information itself.
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