Nowadays, with the rise of one-click job applications, writing a cover letter may seem unnecessary. However, cover letters are one of the best ways to get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. If you write a compelling cover letter, you can stand out from other applicants and secure an interview.
While you don’t always have to, submitting a cover letter is an excellent way to cement your interest in the job further. Most hiring managers will appreciate that you took an extra step to show your enthusiasm.
You should write your cover letter carefully so that it adds value to your application. Consider these rules when conveying your interest through a cover letter.
Once you’ve found a job you’re interested in, you’ll want to learn more about the company. Review its website, check its LinkedIn profile, and scour the news for additional information.
What you learn will help you determine the right tone for your cover letter. Specifically:
Make a note of any crucial facts you discover about the company. If there’s a news report that they’re expanding to a new location or offering a new product, you could reference that in your letter.
Your résumé is essentially a list of your professional experience along with your education and skills. You’ll want to talk about your previous positions and how they can benefit you in the role you’re applying for.
If you’re making a career change, a cover letter is the perfect place to describe your shift in mindset and what you want to do in the future. If your career shift requires new skill development or more education, you could describe the new certification you’re working toward or the courses you’re currently taking.
Avoid generic cover letters entirely. There are countless examples of cover letters available on the internet, but your goal is to stand out from other applicants — not simply check a box where you sent a letter.
Craft a solid opening paragraph that conveys your interest in the role. You can use the first few sentences to highlight your successes in prior positions, but keep in mind that a cover letter shouldn’t only repeat your résumé. Briefly connect your experience to the new role, and describe what attracted you to the job.
Remember that cover letters are usually no-nonsense. They’re not the right place to display your sense of humor. Stay away from statements or jokes that may be off-putting to the hiring manager.
Read the full job description carefully. Note any wording that indicates the employer is looking to solve problems through the open role. If the job description is generic, you can identify specific skills or experience that you have in your cover letter. You can also use information you found through your earlier research to personalize your letter.
Carefully relay how your experience can benefit the company and add value. Cite a specific example of something you accomplished that was similar to a problem the organization wants to solve.
For instance, if you’re applying for a sales position, you might describe how you raised revenues by a certain percentage in your last job or how a program you implemented improved customer retention.
Your examples should be concise and convincing. You don’t need to describe every detail of your accomplishments. Highlights are enough for a cover letter. If the hiring manager asks you to interview for the role, you can elaborate during your conversation.
Your cover letter should indicate why you find the job interesting and what excites you about the company. Keep the right tone for the organization, but use authenticity to your advantage when writing your letter.
Hiring managers want people who are truly excited to work for their company. They’re less likely to select individuals who don’t appear genuinely interested in the job or its responsibilities. You don’t need to go overboard, but praising the company is essential.
While it’s important to be enthusiastic, don’t appear overly so. Avoid saying things you don’t mean, and don’t cross the line from interested to desperate. Even if you’ve been without a job for several months, you don’t want to seem like you’ll take any position available.
Remember that you have skills to offer the employer, and you’re capable of handling the role. The hiring manager may doubt your abilities if you come on too strong.
No cover letter should stretch longer than three-fourths of a page. If you’re venturing into two-page territory, the hiring manager may stop reading. They may be looking for a good employee, but they also have other time commitments.
Edit your letter for length and make sure that it clearly identifies the points you want to make to the hiring manager. Try to break up the text, and avoid long paragraphs or run-on sentences.
If you have a family member or friend with grammar skills, ask them to look at your cover letter. Once they read through it, determine whether they understand the point you’re trying to make and whether the tone of your letter is appropriate.
Some of the worst mistakes you can make in a cover letter include poor grammar, misspellings, or sounding desperate. If you know your grammar and spelling skills aren’t excellent, you can run the cover letter through a free program like Grammarly to identify errors.
According to Zippia, the typical open role in a corporate setting receives 250 applications. That’s a lot of individuals, all looking for the same opportunity as you. Your cover letter can help you get your foot in the door as long as it’s sincere and explains your interest in the company and the open position.
At Cowen Partners, our executive recruiters are exceptionally skilled at delivering in-demand candidates, no matter the need and across all industries. Backed by a proven executive recruiting process, we have been the partner of choice for startups, corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and more, meeting unique and critical recruitment needs across the entire C-suite, including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, CIOs, CTOs, CHROs, VPs of sales, other VPs, directors, and several other leadership roles.
With our executive recruiters, you get senior partner-led searches, due diligence-run networking, meticulous candidate vetting, and so much more, all geared towards one goal — placing the very best talent as soon as possible, all while ensuring a seamless fit with your company culture, your big-picture objectives, and other factors. Plus, we have one of the highest candidate retention rates in the industry while consistently delivering world-class talent faster than the competition.
That’s how Cowen Partners has become a leading executive search firm nationwide, and it’s why our executive recruiters have a reputation for excellence and success.
We also invite you to continue exploring more executive recruiting insights from our team: