For people who aren’t used to patting themselves on the back, crafting a cover letter can feel like a daunting exercise, especially if you’re applying for a bunch of jobs in a short timeframe. But it’s worth the effort — what starts out as a blank word document will become an essential tool with which you’ll market your best talents and get strangers excited to put you on payroll.
If crafting a fresh cover letter for every application is daunting, you should consider using a template for your cover letters, but if you do, you’ll have be subtle about it. Using an obvious fill-in-the-blank template won’t earn you any points with hiring managers — you still want your personal flavour to shine through.
If you haven’t been out testing the waters of the job market for a long time, dusting off your resume may feel like unearthing a relic from centuries past. But once you have it ready, you might be wondering about the best potential format for dispersing it among all the...Read more
Cover the basics
There is a simple formula to cover letter writing, which is to say that every letter doesn’t need to be completely original. Luckily, you can tailor your cover letter to follow a general flow, with paragraphs that discuss different aspects of your qualifications.
Here’s what Resume Genius suggests:
- Introductory paragraph: This is the section that gets you noticed. It’s what separates letters that get read in full from those that get thrown in a slush pile. Use this section to describe your experience in glowing terms, and note why it makes you a good fit for the job you’re applying to. (I always consider it a good practice to name the job you’re applying to, i.e. ‘I think my experience makes me an excellent candidate for the position of [insert job title].’”)
- Body paragraphs: Describe how your experience would be put to use in your role with the company. Feel free to elaborate on the information you have listed on your resume, detailing how it could be parlayed into workplace success.
- Call to action: In the last section — which should also include a thank you — tell the hiring manager about your excitement (taking the opportunity to circle back to your expertise one last time), and note that you’re looking forward to speaking to them.
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Tinker with the same rough outline for different jobs
While the general feel of a cover letter should be the same across the board — the focus is always going to be getting someone to notice you by singing your own praises — the content of your letter should vary based upon the job you’re trying to get.
So consider drafting a cover letter like a jigsaw puzzle, and then cutting/adding what you need to make it more appropriate for various gigs, making sure to address your ability to handle as many of the listed job responsibilities as possible by sharing examples from your career history. If you’re applying to a job in social media marketing one week and then a job in PR the next, you’re obviously going to give different skills more weight in your cover letter, depending upon the listing. But a lot of the general content about your experience, your career ambitions and what you bring to the table as a generous and hardworking colleague will remain the same.
You can think of your cover letter as your professional story. In this way, the letter is like a novel that proceeds toward a predetermined endpoint from a basic premise — only some of the chapters change depending upon the job you’re applying to.
The next time you’re preparing for an interview, instead of trying to rehearse answers to dozens of common questions, think of three sweeping stories that describe times you did excellent work, worked with difficult people, or rose to a challenge. Real stories and conversations go farther than stock answers.Read more
Realise what works across the board
If you’re able to come up with great copy that you think will make an HR manager weak in the knees, use it in all of your cover letters. Don’t submit the exact same letter across the board. But if you’ve come up with an effective way of phrasing various things — like your professional accolades, or compliments your managers have given you — then don’t be shy about shoehorning those things into all of your letters. Save a draft of every cover letter you send out so you can mine earlier versions for information relevant to other potential gigs.
A simple rule exists to justify cutting down on the time it takes to draft bespoke cover letters for each position: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. This is especially true of the general information about you as a worker and colleague, which will ring true no matter the job you’re gunning for.