A common misconception is that a cover letter doesn’t matter as much as a resume. Depending on your career field, the importance of a cover letter ranges, but should never go undone.
While your resume outlines your experience, your cover letter gives you the opportunity to explain your journey and tell a story.
Cover letters that express emotion lead to job interviews; generalized ones don’t.
That leads me to this week’s awesome challenge….
Week 31 Challenge: Write a kick-ass cover letter
Challenge Details: Spend 2 to 3 hours writing a cover letter that tells your professional story. Even if you’re not currently looking for employment, I encourage you to put together a kick-ass cover letter highlighting your career desires.
Your Deadline: August 8
If you post a photo of yourself with your thinking cap on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #2016IsMyBitch, bonus points and a virtual pat on the back goes out to you!
There is a formula that I generally use when writing a kick-ass cover letter. It covers important elements that an employer seeks as well as showcases your best characteristics. So, here it goes:
Start with something unexpected, but relevant.
The cover letter that landed me my first-ever job after college started with a story of my childhood. “At 7 years old, I launched the Bisbee Court Buzz, a newsletter all about the happenings on my cul-de-sac.” I continued by explaining how I interviewed, wrote, published and promoted my newsletter.
Are there a series of events in your life that pointed you to a certain career path? Or did you have an “a-ha” moment that led you to pursue this job?
Tell your story in your cover letter.
When I read cover letters as a hiring manager, a lot of them seem to blend together. You want your cover letter to stand out. A great cover provides insight into your passions. A bland cover letter is a rinse-and-repeat recap of your resume.
Talk about HOW you can contribute to this position.
As a hiring manager, I’m drawn to the cover letters that directly mention our company and our advertised job. Mentioning the employer helps the company fit you into its equation and shows your initiative.
Also, it’s a way to present HOW your qualifications are an asset for this position. I would be more inclined to move an applicant to the next level that shows me how they will contribute to our company specifically.
Be specific about your personality.
At this point, you’ve shared a story and told the hiring manager how you’d contribute to this company. Now, I recommend writing a little bit about yourself to provide context.
Our resumes are riddled with professional lingo and technical jargon, which can read a little dry and generic. Use your cover letter to liven up your application and be yourself. The story I mentioned about launching the Bisbee Court Buzz provided a personal touch, but I also added my hobbies.
Ultimately, you want to interview and work for a company that fits your personality, so this is your chance to give a potential employer details about yourself.
Honesty is the best policy.
Some job postings might ask for desired salary. I know, I know, the salary question is a terrifying one to answer! I speak for myself that I tend to low-ball because I don’t want to appear greedy.
Well, I learned it’s not greedy to want a competitive salary in line with your professional experience. It is also important to point out that you should only apply to positions that are within your salary range. Be fair to yourself and potential employers.
Be upfront about your desired salary, but know it’s OK to be flexible.
Don’t worry too much about what you think an employer wants to hear. Stick to your guns about yourself.
Final tidbit, triple..wait, maybe quadruple check that you have addressed the correct person and company before emailing your cover letter!
I can’t tell you how many times people have accidentally verbatim copied another cover letter. You could be missing out on a perfect job because your cover letter had the incorrect company name.
We all make mistakes and I’m one to admit that I’ve done that before too. Just really, really make sure you have your best foot forward!