Many of us consider a cover letter nothing more than a standard piece of paper that goes with our resume or CV. It is also quite surprising that a vast majority of job seekers put minimal thought into creating a good quality cover letter, believing that most employers pay little to no attention to it. In fact, if you think this way, you couldn’t be more wrong!
Having a well-crafted cover letter can act to back up your resume, and can also give a prospective employer a bit more insight into your personality and the type of person you are. Your cover letter is a powerful tool that gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to an employer that doesn’t know you from Adam and can give you some recognition as an individual.
The worst thing you can do is to slap together a very basic and generic cover letter and use it over again for each and every job application you go for. Your cover letter is your first step through the company door, so you need to realize just how important and valuable it is to your future success.
Resume filtering software
Many large companies who are up to speed with modern technology will more than likely use a resume filtering software also known as Applicant Tracking System or ATS to process job applicants submitting their resumes and cover letters. In this age of digital technology, you cannot afford to miss out on a job opportunity by sending a generic cover letter that hasn’t been revised and tailored to fit with individual employers.
We all know that we should revise our resume to fit with each employer we approach, but not many job seekers realize that they should do the same with their cover letters too. Resume scanning software enables employers to sift through mountains of job applicants to filter out those that don’t meet with the company requirements. What the scanning technology is looking for are those specific keywords and phrases within the text on your cover letter and resume that are important to the role on offer.
The human touch
Keep in mind that once your application passes the automated scanning process, it will be read by a human eye, so make sure that what you write is engaging.
Your cover letter briefly explains to an employer about who you are, what you have achieved, and why you are suitable for the job. As this is the first piece of information about you that the employer will read, it is essential to make an impact here and write a narrative that encourages them to read on and look through your resume.
So, what information should you include in your cover letter?
Well, first of all, you need to keep your cover letter short and sweet because if you provide too much information, the employer may be put off reading the whole thing just because it can look too intimidating. Also what you need to bear in mind is if you are applicant number 198 of 250, how weary and tired of reading is the employer going to be?
Let’s take some time out and go back to the drawing board with your cover letter preparation. Firstly, carefully check the job description that the employer has provided. Look for any specific keywords and desirable skills that on demand. Draw attention to any skills and experience you have that match their desires and highlight these in your cover letter using the same keywords or descriptions that they use.
Establish an emotional connection
Briefly explain why the job on offer is appealing to you and how it would fit in perfectly with your own career goals. If you have had some history with the company, you can also weave this into your text, whether that is your passion for using the products or services they sell, or that the company ethos matches with your core beliefs and you would like to help the company to grow and reach their next milestone.
Sing your own praises
You don’t have a lot of room on your resume to go into too much detail about your career achievements. This is why you can use your cover letter to expand and share more details, figures and statistics about significant events that you achieved that are in line with the role on offer. Say for example that you were applying for a marketing role, you can list the size of the budgets you have controlled, savings made, goals achieved and impressive ROI figures.
You should only need to include short sentences or bullet-point information here. Remember that you don’t want to overwhelm the employer with too much text. Instead, you should include valuable information that is relevant to the job, makes your point clear, and will leave them on a positive note wanting to know more.
The employer wants to recruit dynamic candidates that are passionate about their work. You can use your cover letter to show them all these qualities and more.