Cover letters are a tricky skill to master. You might think to yourself, “why do I have to write what’s already on my resume, but with a cheesy twist?” They’re also time consuming and rather tedious, and you have to tweak them for each individual job you apply for. In short, cover letters are a pain. However, they play an important role in getting a job. If they didn’t, employers wouldn’t ask for them. And since somebody out there is reading them, let’s make sure your cover letter grabs their attention and puts you on track for an interview.
Most cover letters involve a myriad of adjectives explaining your work ethic and experience. While this can be great, it can also come off as a bit phony or vague. When writing a cover letter, of course have somewhat general sections about your experience, but make sure you also personalize it to this one, singular job. Really read the job description and qualifications and consider how you yourself would genuinely fit in and what you would bring to the table.
Also include projects you have done that directly relate to the job and explain how you uniquely qualify. This gives your cover letter some substance and storytelling while including a narrative about your previous experience, which makes it much more interesting to read.
Gone are the days of stuffy, overly formal cover letters. Of course, they should be professional, but now it’s acceptable (and often preferred) that you use your own individual voice to write it. You can look at the job ad and see how they frame what they’re looking for. Often the person posting writes with a sense of humor or more relaxed speech, and you can use that to gauge what kind of tone you should approach your letter with. You can sprinkle in a bit of friendly banter or show them your wit if you feel it’s appropriate.
Cover letters might make you want to pull your hair out, but so would reading 100 cover letters saying identical things and offering little substance as to who the candidate actually is. Just remember to refer back to the job posting and personalize as much as you can, and don’t be afraid to do something to really stand out from the crowd.