In the previous blog post, we saw the structure of a cover letter. This week, we are going to delve a bit deeper and analyze those important details that make your cover letter stand out. Like we had seen in the previous article, cover letters are hard to write because they need one to spend time writing them. Most people don’t like to write. So what they do is to send the same cover letter to similar job adverts hoping that they will get called for an interview. If you have been doing this, read the tips below and start writing cover letters that will get you called for an interview.
1. Read & Understand the Job Requirements
The key to getting it right is understanding what the employer is looking for. You do this by reading the job advert a couple of times. A sales position in one company might entail something slightly different from another. A marketing position in one company might need more digital skills compared to another company. The best thing to do is to highlight the keywords in the job advert so you can use them later. However, go beyond in your research in order to understand the company more. Read news articles and find out more information that you might be able to use in your cover letter.
2. Tailored is Better
When you start writing your cover letter, tailor it. You might ask what does this mean. Well, write a cover letter that answers that specific advert. Don’t use one cover letter for each position you apply. If the position requires more leadership experience, show how you have acquired this skill. If the position wants someone who can manage a team then talk about that.
There is a tendency of job seekers to send one cover letter for every similar position. This won’t get you far in the process because nothing is boring like a generic cover letter. Remember that you run the risk of sending a cover letter that talks about things that were not even asked in the advert. The worst scenario will be sending a cover letter addressed to company XYZ to ABC.
3. The good use of keywords from the advert
Some companies use CV-filtering software that scans cover letters and evaluates how it matches the required skills and experience. Not using the keywords from the advert might cause the recruiters to overlook your cover letter.
Like we have seen before, circle the keywords as you go through the job advert. Then incorporate these keywords as you build your cover letter. Some of the keywords will be the skills required, years of experience, etc. This is why it is very important for your cover letter to be personalized compared to sending a generic cover letter that you only change the receiver’s address.
4. Highlight achievements
Remember that a cover letter is a sales pitch. Nothing sales than achievements. Instead of saying I have experience in project management, give examples of a project you have managed. For sales positions, you can talk about the targets and revenue you brought. Even when it comes to skills related to leadership, creativity and working in teams, vouch for everything you say with an example. Just saying I have leadership skills is like saying you have a lot of money without any proof.
5. Short and Clear
Conventionally, cover letters are not supposed to be more than one A4 page. I know what you are thinking. This means you need to be straight to the point. Use short sentences. Don’t beat around the bush. Chop off those unwanted expressions. Don’t tell stories. One of the things you need to do is to trim off those sentences that go like I have supported, helped, grown, monitored, evaluated, reported and communicated into less wordy sentences. Even if you start with two or three pages, cut down your cover letter to one page.
These are the reasons why cover letters are challenging. If you want to come up with a solid one, then you need to spend time crafting it. There are no shortcuts, at least for those who are serious about getting called for an interview. It is a good idea to ask someone who is good with cover letters to go through yours and give you some pointers.