By Nicole Maseberg
Not every hiring manager values a cover letter, but those who read them tend to put an extraordinarily high stock in them. Since you don’t know which type of hiring manger will read your application, it is best not to skip this step. Putting together a proper cover letter can be tough because, like the resume, it must be customized to each job you apply for. Here are some tips to make sure you are creating a cover letter that validates your fit for the position.
1. It’s different than your resume.
Your cover letter is a chance for you to convey your unique fit for a position. One clear difference between your resume and cover letter is in the writing style. Unlike the stiff grammar expected from resumes, cover letters should be written using full sentences, and don’t be afraid to portray your own unique style and personality in your writing.
Don’t repeat the same things you have on your resume, but expand upon them. For example, you may have bullet that says you handled 75 helpdesk tickets per day. In your cover letter, you can expand upon that by saying that during those calls, you learned how to listen to people’s issues and respond in a calm and detailed manner, which helped you to be successful even with the hardest of customers. If you’re transitioning into IT from a different industry, you can use your cover letter to explain your transition by connecting related strengths and skills.
2. Highlight your skills.
Using keywords from the job lead, make sure that you are showcasing the value you will bring to the company. You can do this by selecting a few of the job responsibilities from the job lead and expanding on your strengths and skills that relate to them. (Select from past work experience rather than educational experience, as education discussions are better left for the interview.) Use exact keywords from the job lead, which will assist you in getting past applicant tracking systems. However, don’t just jam keywords in your cover letter to make you get a better score. The letter must make sense to the reader.
3. The format is important.
You can use a template for your cover letter, but don’t use the exact wording. No one wants to read, “Dear Hiring Manager, I am excited to apply for your open position and hope to utilize my skills to grow within your company.” Hiring managers have read that line a million times and it doesn’t tell them anything about you specifically. You can be unique with your cover letter, if it isn’t visually unappealing or hard to follow because of the formatting style you chose.
Try to keep it to one page. Typically, 3-5 short paragraphs are enough. Use the same font and style as your resume if you are hand delivering it or sending it as an attachment. Your email can also serve as a cover letter if the employer asks for your resume to be emailed for review.
4. Don’t make careless mistakes.
Check out this website for more information and links to tips and tricks: https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-write-a-cover-letter-31-tips-you-need-to-know