In today’s job market a resume can only go so far. Most companies require, or strongly encourage, a cover letter to really get to know you and what you can bring to the position. While these can seem daunting it’s better to look at a cover letter like an opportunity rather than a chore. It’s really your chance to put your skills and your story into your own voice and go beyond your resume to showcase what you can bring to the position. Here are a few tips on how to craft a strong cover letter.
Before you actually write your cover letter do some research on the company and the position. What is the mission statement of the company? What kind of work environment are they trying to foster? You could even reach out to an employee and ask some questions as a potential applicant. Carefully reread the job description and really pay attention to the buzz words they use to explain what they are looking for. They may say things like “hard working, confident, team player, independent, etc.” and while your resume may or may not show you have these qualities you can elaborate on them in your cover letter and specifically show what your past positions have given you, or how they sharpened these qualities.
Write About Your Future
While your resume is really a look at your past, your cover letter should be about your future. Why are you applying to this job? What do you hope to accomplish if hired? How can you help this company as they move forward? Try to avoid a simple rehashing of your resume. They know what you have done so in your cover letter explain how your experiences have prepared you for the specific challenges facing this position/industry.
The person reading these cover letters is probably reading a whole stack of them so a punchy opener can really help you stand out. Don’t be afraid to lead with your best quality or the most important experience you had that prepared you for this job. You can also start off by telling them why this position excites you and directly state what you can bring to the company and why this match is so exciting.
Speaking of excitement, enthusiasm can go a long way in writing a strong cover letter. Hiring managers are more likely to give interviews to people who treat this position as their dream job. So, make sure to convey your excitement for this position and the company as a whole, how this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. You don’t want to come off as desperate but you’re allowed to show your passion for what you do and for what this opportunity means to you.
Shorter is Better
Err on the side of being short. If there is one thing to caution you about it’s being long winded. The shorter your cover letter the better. Explain who you are and why you’re a good fit and wrap it up. Again, the people reading these are probably reading tons of them and a short punchy cover letter is going to stand out a lot more than one that drones on and on and repeats the same information in your resume.
The key thing really is to be yourself. This is your opportunity to put who you are and why you're the perfect fit into your own words. No one can explain your strengths better than you, so trust yourself to communicate your story effectively and everything should fall into place.