If there’s one thing worse than updating your resumé, it’s writing a cover letter. Because unlike a resumé, which you should tweak for each job, but which largely stays the same, a cover letter needs to be exclusive. This means you have to write a new one for every single job you apply for.
When you’re on the hunt for a new job, you’re filling out a lot of job applications. And writing a lot of cover letters. So how do you know where to start? How important is it to have a cover letter that stands out? Do you even need one in the first place?
Let’s get that last question out of the way, because the answer is pretty short and to the point: yes, you do. That’s according to Jobbio’s Hiring Intelligence Report 2022, which found that for 46% of hiring managers, a well crafted cover letter is essential for setting yourself apart from the competition, which is the first step in getting your application noticed, and pushing yourself up the rankings.
A recent survey by ResumeGo even suggests that job applications with a custom-tailored cover letter have a 50% better chance of garnering you an interview than those that feature no cover letter, or a generic version that hasn’t been edited to fit each application.
1. Get the basics right
Remember learning to write the perfect letter in elementary school? While some things have changed – a postal address isn’t necessary anymore, as a full name and email will do – other things haven’t, and you should include contact details as well as relevant links to your work or career history. You might also want to include your pronouns.
2. Customize your letter
Customize your cover letter to the company you’re applying to. If you’re applying to a fun new start-up that thinks of itself as the fun new tech disruptor on the block, you might want to think creatively about your cover letter in terms of both design and content, while a cover letter to one of the Big Four accounting firms might need to be a little more conservative in tone and visuals.
Remember, while this differs from a Grad school’s letter of intent, there are some similarities. You’ll want to stand out from everyone else, for a start.
3. Do your research
The cover letter functions not only as a way of differentiating yourself from other candidates, but it’s also an opportunity for you to share your knowledge of the company you’re applying to. See what you can glean about the company online.
What’s the culture like? What marks it out from its competition? And what is it about it that makes it the perfect fit for you – and vice versa?
Part of this research should also involve figuring out who to address your letter to, whether that’s the hiring manager or someone else, as specified by the job description. Google is your friend!
4. Make the information relevant
Your resumé serves to detail your relevant experience and education, while your cover letter offers you the chance to explain why it is that your experience and education makes you the right fit for this particular job. Read the job announcement carefully and tailor the content of your letter to the role you’re applying for. A good cover letter should answer the question: Why are you the best fit for this job?
5. Don’t get carried away
Don’t be tempted to make this your magnum opus. You’re outlining which role you’re applying for, what your relevant skills are, and where they can find more information about your experience and background. Do pay careful attention to what the job posting asks you to include in your cover letter. If they’ve asked for links or work samples, include these.
6. Don’t waste space on clichés
Speaking of having great attention to detail, use your word count wisely and don’t add in expressions or phrases that end up being meaningless. Avoid saying you’re a “hard worker” – everyone else will too. You can add “great team player”, “passionate about sales”, and “punctual to a fault” to that list while you’re at it.
Now, get a new job
Looking to get some practice writing a top-notch cover letter? Here are some roles currently hiring, and there are plenty more to discover on the The Grad Cafe Job Board.
Electronic Arts in Los Angeles is currently looking for a UI Artist Intern to join its world-class internship experience. You’ll collaborate with UI artists, UX designers and scripters to create 2D art assets and learn about the game development pipeline at the US’s leading interactive entertainment company.
Adobe is seeking an Internal Audit Analyst Intern for 2023 in San Jose. You’ll work in the Risk Advisory Assurance Services (RAAS) team and you will support sales, partners, operational audits and advisory projects. You will need to have a Bachelor’s degree, preferably in accounting, Finance or an equivalent, as well as demonstrated proficiency in MS Excel, Word and PowerPoint, with a general understanding of data analysis techniques.
Language-learning application Duolingo is hiring an Executive Recruiter for its Pittsburgh office, with responsibility for recruiting leadership-level roles. You’ll have seven years’ of full-cycle recruiting experience across various functions, and a minimum of three years’ of executive recruiting experience, along with a proven ability to creatively establish and maintain relationships with talent.