“Click below to apply now, and tell us why you’d be a good fit for our company.”
“NOOOOOOOOO!” you scream inwardly. Or out loud if you’re at home. “Why are they making me write this when they probably won’t even read it? I already attached my resume!”
So you hastily throw something together explaining how your previous experience makes you the perfect candidate for the position, or, even worse, you find the last cover letter you wrote, change the company name in a few key places, and hit send.
To all the job seekers out there, I’m begging you- please stop this!
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me if they “even need a cover letter” for their job application, I’d be a rich woman. If I had another penny for every time I answered with “Yes, you should customize your cover letter for EVERY job application”, I’d be a bazillionaire.
Here’s why: If you don’t write one, your showing the hiring manager that you don’t know how to follow directions- and that’s just lazy. On the other hand, if you write an amazingly thought out Cover Letter (CL), you’re halfway in the door! Since you have to write a CL anyway, you might as well make it great. Here’s three ways to do it:
The first paragraph is your only opportunity to pull in your readers. I like to start off with an attention-grabbing blurb or sentence that shows enthusiasm for the company itself. For example:
Last April, I officially paid off the last of my student loans totaling over $10,000- and it only took six months.
I ousted our company’s top salesperson from his spot—and have enjoyed my view from the top ever since. Which means, I’m ready for my next big challenge, and the sales manager role at COMPANY NAME just might be it.
When I vacationed in Denver last month, we toured the Coors brewery- I was so impressed that I didn’t want to leave. I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t- and immediately went online to search for career opportunities.
Tell a story. Why do you want to work there? Has it been your dream to work with Gatorade ever since you saw their commercials that made you think you can be just like Peyton Manning? Is it in you? Why…yes, Peyton, it so is!
Using the right tone in a cover letter shows that you are professional and have done research on the company beforehand. So get a feel for the company culture first. Can you be witty or should you attach a more formal, concise letter? I like to start by looking at the company’s online profiles to find their brand. What is their mission statement? Do their current employees have company bios listed-what do they say? How do their employees interact with clients on social media?
Most importantly, how does the job application read? I once applied to a job that said “Send us your kick-ass resume, and let us know why we should hire you over that other guy!” I knew that they were looking for employees who could easily fit within their culture, so I made sure my CL proved it. Your research here will help you determine if the aforementioned, more aggressive and informal intro example is appropriate, or if a more conservative, but still effective intro (like the second one) is better.
Here is where you need to tell the reader why you really are qualified for the position at hand. It’s important not to recite your resume verbatim, but to gracefully include relevant examples of your skills, previous roles, and responsibilities. Choose those relevant examples by first determining the key qualifications for the job you’re applying for, then, making it known how you can/will do that.
No matter what the tone of your CL is, make sure you’re not bragging in an overly confident way. Let’s break it down:
Give ‘em the facts and stay positive:
For the last three years at PREVIOUS COMPANY NAME, I managed the day to day operations of our warehouse including coordinating shipping schedules, forecasting inventory levels, and facilitating client-facing communications. By effectively supervising a team of 13 full-time employees, I ensured on-time deliveries and overall client satisfaction for a leading national retail brand.
Now, tell ‘em what hiring YOU means for THEM:
I know how to prioritize responsibilities, and motivate my teams to do the same. As a supply chain manager for COMPANY NAME, I’d apply this same detailed process knowledge and dedication to the task at hand so that the Operations team achieves its goals and stays within budget.
If you’re really serious about landing a new job, then customizing your cover letter is the only way to go. It may take more time and effort, but it will all be worth it when the hiring manager calls you for that interview a few days later.
Cover letters can make or break your application. Do you need help creating an impactful and effective CL? LaunchPoint Resume will write one that knocks your desired company’s socks off. Contact us for help today!
Lauren is the brains behind CaPABLE…and Beyond, founder of LaunchPoint Resume, Cerebral Palsy have-er, and constant chaser of the ‘good life’. Money and Career writer at The Cheat Sheet and occasional freelancer for career, money, and organizational development topics.