With the new year approaching, many companies are taking on new business, landing new clients and starting new projects. This adds up to one major thing for you; the chance to land a new job!
Yet with the anticipated surge in job openings, there will also be a large increase in the number of potential job candidates as we all know how the whole “New Year, New Me” movement goes (*rolls eyes*). So how can you make sure to stand out from all the competition and ensure you land that perfect new gig?
The cover letter.
Often seen as just a nuisance in the job application process and often treated as just a paragraph summary of everything you’ve already stated in your resume, many job searchers miss out on the chance to make a lasting first impression by using this letter to highlight themselves in the best way possible.
If you are one of many who just re-cap your resume or send a very vague one size fits all and bland cover letter to all companies you’re interested in, read on to find out how that’s holding you back and what you can do to move forward.
From speaking with many different hiring managers and from the numerous (I’d say well over 50) job interviews I have gone on, I have deciphered the main keys to a successful cover letter that will get you noticed and on the list of potential hires for your dream job.
1. Be specific
Please do not waste your or the hiring managers time sending out a sample cover letter that you include with all your job applications. Take the time to fully research the company and the job description and tailor your cover letter to specifically show why you would be the ideal candidate to fill the role and help meet the needs of the firm. Use specific examples of your particular skill set and how what you offer can benefit your department and the company as a whole.
Yet remember that you are one of hundreds of candidates, so while you want to be as clear and detailed as possible you also want to keep it short and sweet; two to three short paragraphs.
2. Be personal
I used to always use the generic “To Whom it May Concern” introduction and in general had little to no luck with getting call backs. What changed for me to start hearing back from around 60-75% of the jobs to which I applied? While networking had a lot to do with it (which I will touch on in a later article), paying more attention to my cover letter definitely helped as well. Instead of a generic greeting, I started to use my stalker skills from years of snooping on boyfriends to my professional advantage. If the job description did not list the hiring manager, I would do a little LinkedIn research to find someone with a title at the company that sounded like they’d end up being my boss OR someone who did the recruiting for the department for which I was applying, and I would personally address my letter to them, also stating within the letter that if they are not who I should be speaking to, if they could kindly get my application into the correct hands that it would be greatly appreciated.
What worked even better for me? Taking it one step further and finding their work e-mail addresses to personally send my cover letter and resume to them. 9 times out of 10, I would receive IMMEDIATE responses and would often be commended for my persistence and invited in for an interview.
3. Be yourself
Above all, I always made a point to show a bit of my personality in my cover letters While your resume shows your qualifications for the position, your cover letter provides employers with an idea of how you would fit in with your potential future coworkers. You want to remain professional while also showcasing your sense of humor, creativity or postive demeanor. For more creative positions, I would turn my cover letter into something fun like “Top 10 Reasons You Should Hire Me”, while for more professional and formal companies, I would focus more so on my high levels of self-motivation, passion for what I do and strong interest in their firm.
These are just three of the many small tweaks could take your job application from automatic throw-away to the callback pile. Interested in hearing more tips? Leave your questions in the comment section and we will get back to you!