The job search is exhausting and it can be tempting to find shortcuts. However, no success comes from a lazy approach to cover letters. Like the marathon runner who takes shortcuts to avoid hours of hard work, a job seeker who sends general cover letters to every employer will never win gold.
The cover letter is your first impression and should arouse the hiring manager’s interest enough to read on, as well as look up your resume to learn more about you. It’s so important.
The ideal cover letter should be no more than one page and should emphasize your experience, your victories and your personality in a few sentences. The resume is what you dig deeper into; the cover letter is where you show.
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Tailoring a cover letter to the employer doesn’t just mean changing the name of the company on every job application, and it will take a little extra work. It may be a candidate market right now, but not all candidates are created equal. And to really stand out, follow our top four tips below.
echo the language
Echo, don’t copy. There is a big difference here. You want to repeat the language the company uses in the job description itself without copying and pasting directly. How do they define success in the role as looking like, and how can you use that wording or achievement in your cover letter?
Let’s look at an example. Roblox, the digital gaming platform, is currently recruiting for a number of positions and in each job description it explains the company’s vision and ethos. A successful cover letter for Roblox may list a skill that would help the company achieve its vision, or a past win that reflects Roblox’s ethos.
You want to flatter and show you’re the right person, not repeat the job posting literally.
Do not be shy
You have seconds to grab the hiring manager’s attention, so now is not the time to play back and wait for the application process to shout about your skills and successes. Use your opening paragraph to introduce yourself in no more than four lines. This is your elevator pitch. If you had 30 seconds to review your entire career history, what would you say? You start with the industry, you list your tenure, you pick your top employers, finish with a win, and state that you believe why you’re right for the role.
For example, if you were hoping to be interviewed for a position at Coupa Software, a company that is currently recruiting for a variety of positions, here’s how to begin your cover letter.
I am an experienced software engineer with over 20 years of experience leading multi-functional teams to achieve success in A, B and C. In that time I have achieved 1, 2 and 3 and am confident that my experience and skills would help your company realize its five-year plan.
Find your victories
What did you do well at your last company and what projects have you completed that were successful? In the interview phase you will be given the floor to elaborate. But success in the application phase involves distilling these achievements into sound bites that you can share with the hiring manager. A cover letter is like a sales pitch: You have a few seconds of the hiring manager’s time to impress and encourage him to pick up your resume. Don’t waste it. Instead, turn your wins into demonstrable metrics fit for the hiring company.
Cybersecurity company CrowdStrik is currently hiring knowledge workers. The recruiter probably won’t care if you graduated with a 1.1 from Cambridge or if you enjoy caving and kayaking in your spare time. But they may be a little more interested in the fact that you oversaw a project in your last position that saved your company 20% year over year, or that you have an interest in fintech, as demonstrated by X, Y, and Z.
By finding your wins and turning them into soundbite metrics, you demonstrate that you understand how companies measure success, that you add value to a position, and that you are an efficient and articulate communicator.
Match your cover letter to the company
A hiring manager is going to read dozens of cover letters for every open position. They care about what you can bring to their company, not what you did for your previous employer. As such, it makes sense to tailor your cover letter to the hiring company. Yes, it’s more work than copying and pasting a generic cover letter, but it pays off.
Audible currently recruits for a variety of roles, with jobs in technology, accounting, and business management. It’s important to highlight your experience in the relevant field you’re applying for, as well as show how you can help the company achieve its goals.
Do your research and see what projects the company is working on, and include it in your cover letter for context as to why you’re citing a past success. Example wording might be: “I have experience working with customer-business partnerships, previously increasing sales by X% – a skill that I believe will help the company achieve its goal of…”
Immediately, the hiring manager will recognize your commitment to going the extra mile, your ability to understand issues at the highest level, and your enthusiastic approach.
Now that you know how to write the cover letter, take a look at the dozens of companies currently employed by The House of Talent Job Board and find your perfect position.