Ah, the cover letter. This little document could break your application, or give you your big break. The most common question regarding cover letters is ‘It’s just a rundown of all the things you’ve done before isn’t it?’ That’s where you’re wrong. It’s easy to write a cover letter, but writing an effective one is where it gets tricky.
Fun fact: Only 2% of cover letters make it past the first round. Hiring managers face mountains of cover letters daily, without enough time to read each one in detail. If you want to clinch your dream job or internship, you’ll have to make sure that your cover letter is the one gleaming through the dreary stack of documents. In the increasingly competitive job market, you’ll want to sell yourself and persuade the company of your dreams to hire you. So how does one go about writing the ticket to their dream job?
Key elements of an effective cover letter
Research the company
When writing your cover letter, make sure to include information about the company’s vision or mission. You could explain why you were drawn to the company in the first place, and what parts of the company resonate with your personal brand. Research about past projects the company has done and showing your knowledge about them also highlights your eagerness to contribute.
Moreover, researching the company also includes gathering more information about the person you’re writing to. A warm salutation in the introduction can help to give off a personable tone.
Talk about your past qualifications
Did you help to raise revenue for your company? Were you part of a groundbreaking campaign? Highlighting past experiences is a stellar way to sell yourself. But, this doesn’t mean just rambling on about your former appointments. Think about which past experiences are similar to what you can do for the next company! The best way to include these are in a bullet point format.
For example: ‘ increased traffic to online blog by 30%’
Numbers jump out of the page when we’re reading them! Statistics and numbers will help to catch the attention of hiring managers, so be sure to include them. In addition, devise a call to action within your cover letter. A CTA will show hiring managers your efforts at problem-solving, and might get you through to the next round.
Tell your story
A cover letter isn’t just the reiteration of your resume. Your cover letter is your chance to give context to some of the previous work you’ve done. If you met a huge challenge while working to ‘increase traffic to your online blog by 30%’, talk about it. More importantly, tell the story of how you managed to overcome those challenges. Employers want to know how and why you were able to achieve such results, and how you can do the same for them. Sell yourself, but don’t go overboard! Always link it back to how you could contribute to the company.
If you’re wondering why the job or internship hunt hasn’t been fruitful, you might be making this one basic mistake. Many times, potential employees copy and paste cover letters and resumes for different companies. This is a huge no-no. Sending the same cover letter to a slew of companies in hopes that one might hit its mark is the wrong strategy.
Instead, tailor your cover letter to each company. Knowing the company’s vibe and style can help you to understand what parts of your resume to include in your cover letter. In addition, the different industries are also on the lookout for different skills and work experience. As such, switching information in and out where applicable could make a world of a difference in terms of securing you an interview.
The format of your cover letter could also be more flexible depending on what industry you’re looking at. Creative industries value more vibrant cover letter and resume designs. So if you’re applying for a role in graphic design or photography, don’t be afraid to inject your personal style into the design of your cover letter. Sometimes, your cover letter could even double up as a mini portfolio of your work!
Keep it keyword friendly
When highlighting your strengths, use keywords to describe yourself. For example, words such as Confident, Able and Determined could be used to start your paragraphs. Following that will be instances and experiences that you’ve shown these traits.
Another way to incorporate keywords into your cover letter will be to include them under your hard skills. For example, skills such as Excel, or Python. We recommend either bolding or underlining these keywords to make it easier for hiring managers. In addition, you could also include level of proficiency. For example, ‘Extremely proficient in CSS/Python. Created websites for xxx.’ In addition, structure your skills section into bullet points for more clarity as well as impact!
How to go about writing your own effective cover letter
Firstly, make sure your contact informations and details are all accurate before going on to your personal statement. For your first paragraph, pick out qualities and skills you have that are applicable to the job you’re applying for. Look at the job description for the job and tailor your information to the skills your potential employer is keeping an eye out for.
Secondly, write your personal statement. This includes previous work history and overview. You should mention three to five past experiences, including responsibilities, tasks and positions. If you’re writing a cover letter for your first internship, fill this portion up with experiences in academic achievements or leadership placements. Basically, this section is set aside for you to talk about what you can bring to the table.
Thirdly, add a call to action. This could be done by finishing up your work experiences with hobbies and interests, and how these will aid you if you get the job. Moreover, the inclusion of a career aim can also show your forward-thinking and determination in developing your skills.
Side note: remember to always, always proofread before sending your cover letter. Grammatical errors and typos are not professional. Also, do save your file as a PDF, this is generally the preferred format.
We’ve heard your cries about cover letter writing! Here are some downloadable templates to guide you as you write your cover letter.
The best cover letter shows who YOU are
If you want to stand out from the crowd, letting your personality shine through your cover letter is the best way to go. Remember to be transparent and genuine. After all, a cover letter also helps employers decide if you’re a good fit for their company culture! If you’re unsure about how or where to start, click here to access our free cover letter templates.
Looking for somewhere to send your first cover letter? Head on over to our marketplace to put those cover letter skills to the test!