Most recruiters sift through hundreds of cover letters every day. Making yourself stand out from other candidates is critical. In a time when copying and pasting generic templates seems to be the standard, a well-written, company-specific cover letter can be the catalyst that gets you that elusive interview. Here are three tips to add some life to your cover letter.
First, do some research about the company that you are applying for, and write an individual cover letter that is clearly written specifically for that organization. Recruiters and hiring managers can tell when you are using the same boring cover letter over and over, and plugging in pertinent information. Subtly include details about the company's history, mention names when possible, describe why this job is your first choice and highlight relevant skills you can bring to the table.
For example, if you are applying to write for an online publication, consider mentioning one of your favorite writers on the website, why you enjoy their work and how they have influenced you. Not only is relevant, tasteful flattery a powerful tool, but it also proves that this job would mean something to you. Companies want to hire people who are looking for more than just a paycheck. The cover letter is your chance to prove your worth to the company by proving the company's worth to you.
An effective way to make the recruiter feel like you are a good fit is to write your letter as if you already work there. Visit the organization's website, and try to write with a similar tone. When appropriate, use the same font and formatting. For instance, if that company italicizes key words or phrases, consider doing the same in your cover letter.
Next, remove any filler about why this job would benefit your life. Instead, focus on how you can directly benefit the organization. Imagine that your cover letter is selling a product, and that product is you. Recruiters and hiring managers are not interested in improving your situation. Outline how your skills and experience will elevate the company, and avoid filler about how this is your dream job, how you would love to work for them and so on and so forth. Keep it concise and informative.
Finally, don't be afraid to have some personality. Of course, there is a very fine line between personality and coming off as juvenile or even uneducated. Don't crack a joke about the CEO in your cover letter, but remember that the person reading it is also a human being. Keep your writing honest and professional, without sounding sterile. The days of the stiff, grandiose cover letter are over. In the age of the Internet, ostentatious words just don't impress as much as you might think.
Your cover letter is going to be read by someone who has probably read many before, and will read many after. Keep it short, interesting and relevant. Sell yourself in a very specific way that proves your worth. Never underestimate the importance of proper formatting, grammar and spelling. A cover letter is your opportunity to get your foot in the door, so wear metaphorical shoes that look good and fit comfortably.
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