Did you know that for some companies and some HR managers the cover letter is, in fact, more important than your CV? Your CV is often just a dry piece of text about what you did, while your cover letter shows how you expect to connect that with what the company wants to do. In that way, it shows how deeply you’ve thought about the position and can also let the company know if you take the application seriously, or if it’s just another one of the many you sent out.
For this reason, you want to make sure you’ve got everything that’s important in there. Here I’ve made a list of essential things that you should include in order to make the best cover letter possible. Note that this list is not exhaustive. Different industries, for example, if you’re applying in healthcare, have different expectations.
None the less, it is a good place to start.
Include the Details of the Job
It seems like a trivial thing to do. And yet it is vitally important. Particularly if you’re applying to a big company the HR manager might have several applications running and they hardly feel like playing the guessing game with your application. For that reason, somewhere early on you want to include what position you’re applying for as well as where you found out about it so that they know what campaign was effective.
Give Them Back Some of Their Phrases
You want to include some of the exact phrases that they used in their application. Why? Because quite often nowadays companies have a first round where they filter the applications through a computer.
These computers are programmed to look for certain key skills and abilities that the company believes are necessary for the job. The best way to get past that filter is to include the phrases that the people who wrote the advertisement included in there.
After all, they’re also going to be the people who are going to set up the filter on the computer and chances are they’ll use some of the same terminologies in both places. That means you’ll get a couple of green lights right off the bat.
Even with people having some of the same terminology thrown back at them will help. After all, we like what we know and we know those phrases. So go on, pepper them in there and you’ll be doing better already.
They’re Not Trying to Hire a Robot
So put some of yourself into the mix as well. Does that mean you sign off with ‘yo!’? No, of course not. It’s better to be slightly too formal rather than too informal. At the same time, the company you’re applying to wants to find somebody who will fit their team.
That means, that they won’t mind if you show a bit of enthusiasm and display a bit of who you are. In that way, if it fits who they are, they’ll feel far more comfortable inviting you, as they feel you’re more likely to click on the structure that they’ve got.
You can see this as a self-applying filter. By demonstrating a bit of your personality you avoid being invited to interview at companies that aren’t a good fit at all. In this way, you’ll make sure that you don’t waste their time and they don’t waste yours. Not sure how to do this? Then get in touch with a cover letter expert. They’ll be able to guide you through this part of the process.
Demonstrate Your Value
As I covered in the introduction, your cover letter is where you explain why you’re a good match for the company. This is where you demonstrate why your skillset is the skillset they’re looking for and why your personality is the one they need on their team.
Don’t be too humble. I know, it’s not comfortable to toot your own horn. At the same time, if you don’t do it (and you’re not in the lucky position where you’ve been introduced by somebody) nobody else is going to do it.
So get out there and brag. Just a little bit, mind. Arrogance isn’t becoming either. But yes, let them know why you’re the right pick for the job and what in your experiences demonstrates that this is so.
Include a Referral
Include somebody that they can contact, so that they know for certain that you’re not just making all you’ve written in your cover letter up. In that way, you lend an extra bit of oomph to your cover letter. The more impressive the referral, the more oomph it will give you.
For that reason, don’t just include their names, but include other details that will make them sound impressive. That can be their job title (are they the CEO of their company?). That can be a significant prize they won (did they get the Noble?).
Make sure that whatever you put in is tailored towards the company’s needs. If your referral is a renown children’s entertainer that will be great if you’re applying to clown college, but won’t be quite as useful if you’re trying to get a position as an accountant.
Rename Your Documents
While writing up your CV and your Cover Letter, you might go through a whole host of different versions. That’s great. It means that you’re putting in the effort to make them really shine. At the same time, the people at the company that you’re applying to do not need to know that this is the 12th version of the document you’re writing up.
In fact, if you include that information it will seem like you’re not quite there yet on dotting your ‘I’s and crossing your ‘t’s. For that reason, rename your documents. Your full name and the nature of the document (e.g. Your-name-here Cover-Letter) will be far more useful to them, as it will make it clear what they’re looking for and will make it far easier for them to find it again if they’re searching through their database later on.
And the final thing that I’d like to discuss is what you shouldn’t include. And that is too much. HR managers have too much to do as it is. For that reason, if they see something that seems to include their workload, they’re naturally going to be negatively disposed towards it.
For that reason, Keep It Short and Simple. Three paragraphs are the industrial norm. So stick to that. It really shouldn’t go past one page either. And that includes details and the kind regards at the end. Even better, try to follow a cover letter template. In this way, you’ll be sure that the bits that you need aren’t just included, but they’re in the right place.
This significantly makes the lives of the HR managers easier. And the easier you make a life for them, the more positively disposed they’ll be towards you – as they’ll think you’re more organized and better at anticipating their needs and desires.
That’s a good place to be. So keep it short and simple and your Cover Letter will have a much bigger chance of getting to the desk of the person actually doing the interviews.
This article is presented by Janet Anthony, she is a blogger from Kansas City who has been writing professionally for five years now. She mostly writes about blogging, social media, and internet marketing. Her motto is “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows”.