You’re just about to submit your resume for an online job posting and all of sudden you stop and ask yourself, “Do I need to add a cover letter?” The short answer is yes! Your cover letter is yet another chance to present your unique story and personal brand, highlight how your transferable skills address specific job requirements, and provide the opportunity to tell the prospective employer why you are the perfect candidate for the job.
A compelling cover letter can be the difference between the slush pile and an interview, so it’s especially important to make sure that yours will set you apart from other applicants.
Without further ado, let’s talk about the tremendous value that a well-crafted cover letter can bring to you.
Rule #1 Make it personal:
Companies today are looking to see how well a job applicant aligns with both the job responsibilities and their company culture. In essence, employers want to see a distinctive personality, both on paper and in person. Be enthusiastic about the company and position, and also do your homework.
Try to find and show common ground between you and the role, culture, and company.
Matching the style of your cover letter with your resume can also enhance your personal brand and demonstrates a sense of character and originality, including the use of fonts, color, and format, among other things.
Rule #2 Tell your own story:
Your cover letter is not just a rehash of your resume. It’s a streamlined focus on the top three job elements that the employer is looking for as well as how your background and qualifications will meet their needs and will draw more attention than generic platitudes.
Use specific, strong examples from previous jobs where appropriate, and try to include relevant industry keywords, without keyword stuffing.
Specific, measurable examples are vital! Your cover letter needs to be tailored to both the job and you, so resist the temptation to use a template from the internet. You want your cover letter to stand out, which it certainly will not if it looks the same as every other letter in the employer’s inbox. You have great accomplishments, experience, and expertise to offer; don’t sell yourself short with a copy-and-paste cover letter or resume that cheapens the perception of your value.
Rule #3 Explain your worth:
A custom cover letter shows the employer in no uncertain terms that you understand the job, have the skills to exceed expectations, and are uniquely qualified.
You’ll want to be honest and at the same time, advocate for yourself and give kudos for successes in other positions you’ve held.
You should explain how your skills can easily transfer from your current role to their position, again with concrete examples. By showing confidence and positively communicating your value and what results you can bring to the company, the employer is more likely to want to learn more about you and your potential contributions that will benefit them.
Rule #4 Call to action:
More often than not, sharing your availability in the cover letter will jumpstart the hiring manager to start thinking about when they might be available to meet with you.
Your confidence in your abilities will enhance their level of comfort in bringing you in.
The power of suggestion can sometimes influence outcomes! It also goes without saying, your letter should be concise and focused on relevant information only. The old adage, “less is more” applies here. Make sure to keep the letter to under one page and proofread your work before submitting; this will go a long way to ensuring a positive conclusion.
Job searching is hard work and although a customized cover letter is more time and effort, the payoff is worth it!
In this competitive job market, a cover letter plays a pivotal role in differentiating you from other candidates.
Keeping your cover letter focused on your individual and quantifiable achievements, examples of the results you’ve driven, and the anticipated contributions that you can bring to the company in the short and long-term is essential to you landing an interview. Close the deal with gratitude for their consideration and don’t forget the final “ask”, scheduling a call or interview!