The dreaded cover letter will do one out of two things, A. It can make you stand out of the crowd of potential candidates or B. In the minds of the interviewer you may transform from a promising applicant to an uncreative one that knows how to use the copy and paste function.
Here are some tips for a killer cover letter that will make you stand out of the crowd:
1. Don’t regurgitate your resume
Most job seekers write cover letters as a paragraph form of their resume. This technique couldn’t be more wrong and could be the prime perpetrator that is causing your application to wear off the eyes of your interviewer. Your cover letter should seize the opportunity to showcase the information that you were unable to squeeze onto your single page resume, a platform to show your personality and your curiosity of the field you intend on working in.
2. Don’t address anyone.
Ditch the cliché ‘ To whom it may concern’ and ‘Dear the Manager’. Often, you will have no idea who will be addressing your application. In this case, don’t address anyone, jump straight into the body of your letter.
3. Dismiss the education lecture
At the end of the day, employers are more concerned about your field experience rather than what you’ve learnt in a classroom. Detailing your work experience, internships and volunteering will give the manager a better idea of your ability to hit the ground running from day one.
4. Don’t be a bore
So many people get stuck in the conventional template and end up sounding like a robot. Never use the phrases “My name is___” they already know this, it’s on your resume and probably at the bottom of the page, and “I am applying for the position__” they know this too, they received your application. Change it up a little.
5. Align your strengths with their needs
Use the job description and what you already know about the company to accentuate how you are the perfect candidate for the role. Outline those strengths that best illustrate your ability to achieve what they entail.
6. End your letter with a call to action
Be assertive. Instead of thanking the reviewer for assessing your application, mention that you look forward to meeting them to discuss the position further, or that you will be following up the application. Be confident in your skills to show your seriousness about the position.
7. Be short and sweet
In general, the rule is for cover letters to not go over a page. The Orange County Resume Survey states that 70% of employers seek either a maximum of half a page (250 words) or ‘the shorter the better.’ Skip the lengthy explanation and jump right into the impressive details. Don’t be afraid to brag.
8. But don’t be too cocky
There’s nothing worse than being expected to do a task you have no experience or skills in doing. Be real about your ability, but don’t apologize for skills you don’t have. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, draw attention to the skills you do have.
9. Drop numbers
Numbers can often speak louder than words. Offer statistics on your impact to former employers. This will illustrate that you speak their language and you understand that they are seeking result driven people.