Happy New Year! January always means resolutions and a fresh start—I’m going to eat right, exercise more, and save money! So, it’s only natural that January is also the most popular time of year for job searching.
If you’re among the many looking for a new job, one thing you’re likely to come across is the dreaded cover letter. Everyone stresses about how to write a cover letter, so take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. A quick google search will reveal that there are many different opinions on what makes a great cover letter, but we thought we’d chime in with our perspective on what will help you stand out.
1. Be specific. Your cover letter should be tailored to each company. If you can find the name of the hiring manager, better to address it to a specific person rather than “To whom this may concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”. Mention the company by name in the body of the letter, and highlight what about that company stands out to you. Less “I’m applying for the sales position at your company,” and more “I’ve been so impressed with COMPANY’s news coverage in 2017—your journalistic integrity is the best in the business, and I’d love to help contribute revenue to such a stellar brand.” Before you can protest—oh, but this will take so much time! I have to send so many of these, I can’t possibly write a whole new cover letter for each!—think about how much time you’ve wasted sending generic cover letters to companies who will never read them. Is your end game to secure an interview, or just to send as many cover letters as possible? If it’s the former, we suggest you take the extra few minutes. It will go a long way.
2. Provide examples. The cover letter should be more than just an essay version of your resume. It should provide specific examples of the work you’ve done, or of your process and strategy. Are there specific qualities that you exemplify, that align with their requirements? If so, don’t just list those off in your cover letter. Provide examples that demonstrate these qualities. Less “I’m an independent worker with great communication skills” and more “In my current role, I create and deliver sales presentations to C-Level executives, and I’m known for jumping into projects head-first, often falling into the leader role because I take the initiative.” Remember—actions speak louder than words!
3. Solve their problem. A company that needs to fill a position has a problem—they have an open role on their team with nobody to fulfill the responsibilities. By applying for the position, you are their solution. Ask yourself: Why are you uniquely qualified to solve their problem? How are you going to be able to step into the position, fulfill the responsibilities, and excel? Frame your cover letter in a way that highlights your understanding of their needs and expectations, and your ability to meet and exceed those expectations. In other words, less “I’ve always wanted to work for a company like yours” and more “I bring with me X years of digital media sales experience with a specific focus on selling into luxury, so I have the contacts to make a dent in revenue from day one .”
Good luck with your job search, and if you haven’t already, reach out to us and let us be another hook in the water for you. We’d love to help you build your career in 2018. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy New Year!