The Art of The Cover Letter

Jessica N. Todmann
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Writing a cover letter is your opportunity to shine. This is the place where you can control the narrative on where you’ve been, where you are now and where you’d like to end up career wise. There’s an art in being able to successfully sell yourself, as there are several ways in which to do so. You can choose to key in on factors that mean something to you on a personal level, that somehow speak to the job, company or industry of the employer you’re applying to. On the other hand, you can focus on the tangible nature of your background and dive into all of the hard skills you possess. If you have an intimate understanding of the industry or community that the company operates within, this is also something you can speak to within your cover letter. It doesn’t matter how you choose to sell yourself, but you must do it well.

The most important thing you need to do is keep the reader interested and engaged. Nobody wants to read something that’s boring, off topic or running on a tangent. The first step in doing this would be to catch their eye with clean copy that’s to the point, but not overly involved. The hiring manager reading your cover letter should have just enough information to read that entices them to call you in for an interview. Although you might think it’s a good idea to give them an entire perspective into who you are and what you can bring to the table, this is something you can divulge to them during the interview. Your cover letter should make a strong case for why you are the right candidate for the position. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, use the points you made in your cover letter as a roadmap for your in-person conversation.

Perhaps the strongest case you can build will reference what you can do for, or bring to, the company. Your drive, your contacts, your knowledge, your skillset- these are all the things you uniquely possess that can impact their business. It’s vital that you are clear on relaying how these attributes can manifest themselves within the role you’re applying for and best serve the organization overall. Carefully read through the job description and try to match all the things they’ve outlined with what you’ve already done or can do. For example, you are applying for a Business Development role at a new makeup line. They’ve made it clear that they need someone who can help them gain recognition and income. Perhaps you have a large network of associates within the cosmetics industry. Those relationships you have can be used to help push this brands sales and marketing goals to new heights! Sell how well connected you are and your value as someone who’s capable of building and maintaining professional partnerships. A company looking to grow can’t help but take notice of that.

It’s also important to think about the things that interest you, or that you are passionate about. From there, try to realize a point of commonality between yourself and the company you’re interested in working for. Linking who you are as a person to the role you’ve got your heart set on may give the hiring manager more room to figure you in as the right candidate. For instance, let’s say you’re applying for an Administrative Assistant role at an environmental law firm. Obviously, this type of organization has a vested interest in matters affecting our environment. But also, this is an area that many people truly care about on an individual level. Maybe you’ve done volunteer work in the past to support marine conservation efforts or minored in environmental studies during college. Although the duties of an Administrative Assistant tend to be pretty straight forward, you can achieve an edge by introducing things about yourself that tie into the mission of the company you’re hoping to work for.

There’s still much to discuss on the topic of cover letter writing. The conversations to be had will always vary as we account for other considerations, such as your experience level or the type of job you seek. For now, here’s one simple piece of advice: make sure that your cover letter leaves the hiring manager reading it convinced that they need someone like you on their team.

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