You’ve probably been told that cover letters are USELESS these days. “Recruiters don’t read them!” “Hiring managers just throw them in the trash!” Well, that’s not entirely true… “Cover letters are a very important part of your job search strategy,” said career expert J.T. O’Donnell, “especially if you’re doing a disruptive job search.” A cover letter is an opportunity to explain why you feel connected to the employer, according to O’Donnell. Look at it this way: employers are looking for people who “get” them, who understand them and why they exist. If you can explain that early on in the hiring process, you increase your chances of not only standing out, but also moving forward. “A cover letter is an opportunity for you to share a story, whether it’s personal or professional, that explains to them how you’ve come to understand that what they do is better, faster, cheaper, stronger,” said O’Donnell. “As a result, you respect and admire them, and want to work for them. That’s what needs to go into a cover letter.” However, if you have the wrong strategy for writing cover letters, it WILL end up in the trash and you WON’T end up moving forward in the hiring process. (If you want to learn how to write a cover letter that works, check out this course). So, no, cover letters aren’t dead. In fact, they’re far from it. As long as you can articulate why you’re connected to the company in a disruptive way, you have a shot at standing out among all of the other candidates and, ultimately, getting the job.
Do you hate writing cover letters? Most people do. However, employers expect to see a cover letter with your resume. They read your letter and form impressions of you as a candidate based on what they read. A bad cover letter (or a lack of one at all) can cause you to lose the chance to interview. Related: How To Write A Cover Letter That Will Get You Hired The good news is that it’s easier than you think to write a cover letter that gives them a very positive first impression, makes you stand out from other candidates and gets you an interview.
How difficult is it to write a cover letter that makes a great first impression on a potential employer, highlights your best qualities, and makes you stand out? With the right information, it’s really not that difficult. The good news is that a cover letter that does all these things will practically guarantee you an interview.
Do you feel like you’re wasting your time writing your cover letter? You’re probably doing it wrong. You’re not alone in your struggle, though. A while back, I had a client who was really struggling writing her cover letter for a company. No matter what she tried, she just couldn’t get something out on paper (sound familiar?). The funny thing is, both of us are writers, so you’d think it would be an easy thing to create. However, it was like pulling teeth trying to get this thing written. She was racking her brain for what to write, but she was completely uninspired. Related: Top 3 Ways To Waste Time On Your Job Search After about a half hour of back and forth, I had an idea. I think I figured out what was wrong. “Okay, let’s forget about this company for a second,” I told her. “If you could work for ANY company, whether it was hiring or not, which one would it be?” Literally three seconds later, she lit up and started raving about this one publishing company that she absolutely adored. She told me what it did, why it was a great fit for her, and why she would excel there. “You realize you just told me what your cover letter is going to say, right?” I said to her. After that, she was able to bust out a rockin’ cover letter. But the problem she had with her first cover letter was clear: she was trying to write about a company she didn’t love.
So, we’re agreed that it’s worth your time to write a cover letter to accompany your resume (see Why Cover Letters Count). Now you’re facing the daunting task of making your cover letter worth reading. Related: 3 Easy Steps To A Quick Cover Letter Makeover Considering that a 2005 Society for Human Resource Management survey revealed that more than 8 out of 10 human resource professionals spend less than one minute reading a cover letter—and that was before the recession flooded the market with applicants, putting even more demands on hiring managers—how can you hope to catch a hiring manager’s attention, let alone convince them to invite you in for an interview? It might feel scary. Somewhat intimidating, maybe. Almost like asking for a date!
Writing your cover letter may seem like a mundane task - something you must do to ensure you submit all documents required when applying for a job. But in reality, your cover letter is so much more than that! This document gives you the opportunity to add life to the technical nature of the resume while showcasing some of your personality. Related: Why We HATE Writing Cover Letters Your job when writing the cover letter is to make sure you grab the hiring manager’s attention from the beginning and, of course, this can’t be accomplished with a “blah” introduction. A great way to lure your reader in is to use your cover letter introduction as a marketing tool by considering the following:
Too many people make the mistake of thinking that the cover letter that goes with their resume isn’t all that important. You may have even heard that no one reads the cover letter, right? Whether that is an accurate statement or not, it doesn’t serve as an invitation for you to overlook any opportunity to make a great impression on the potential reader of your cover letter. You want to make your personal brand shine, and the cover letter is an excellent place to start. Use these tips to help your brand SHINE when writing your next cover letter. Related: #1 Thing You MUST Say In Your Cover Letter