When applying for a new job, details matter.
Your resume might be up to par, but that certainly isn’t going to be the only thing that gets you an interview. What will get you noticed and give you the best shot at getting an interview is the right cover letter.
Employers are flooded with emails and there is little way to differentiate qualified candidates in a personalized way besides the information they include in their cover letter. It’s your one and only chance to tell recruiters why you are the perfect candidate for the job. It’s your first chance to wow them with your skillset and experience.
Here’s how you can take your cover letter to the next level:
1. Use a strong opener
People usually apply for jobs with a stock phrase like “I’m writing to apply for x job that I saw in y place.” That’s pretty dull and isn’t going to grab anyone’s attention. Instead, start the cover letter with a specific fact about yourself that you think they need know. For example, you could say “Hi, I’m a marketing and copywriting guru with 15 years of experience running strategic campaigns for small businesses.” Right away, they get to learn something about you and are intrigued.
2. Don’t summarize your resume
Don’t waste a hiring manager's time by regurgitating all the info in your resume -- they don’t need to read it twice. Instead, focus on your personal value and traits, why you’re excited about the job or specific achievements you’ve had in the past.
3. Show off your knowledge of the company
The body of the letter should highlight the fact that you’re not just looking for any job, but this particular job. You should prove that you have done your research and appreciate and admire what the company does. Researching their social media platforms, learning more about the challenges they are facing and understanding the culture of the organization are important parts of showing that you care about the company and are the best candidate.
4. Focus on the value you could bring to the company
Don't be modest! Managers are looking for someone who is going to make their jobs easier. So how, specifically, can can help the company overcome some of the obstacles it is facing (do your research)? Name a certain challenge and talk about how your experience has equipped you with the skills you need to overcome these issues.
5. Get the tone right
You want to be conversational, but you also want to make sure you’re using the right tone for the company you’re applying with. For instance, you might take a more casual, colloquial tone with a young startup and a more serious, professional tone with a larger corporation. Don’t use slang and make sure your grammar and spelling are spot-on, but try to keep your language warm and engaging.
6. Use some numbers
You’ll definitely want to avoid vague statements and hyperbole, but you’ll score extra points if you can include some stats on how you have impacted companies or associations that you’ve been employed with in the past. Employers love to see the tangible effect new hires could have on their company. It also shows them that you know what you’re doing and they won’t experience a steep learning curve with you.
The best cover letters are the ones that show you care about standing out to the hiring manager. Be memorable and explain what makes you unique and you’ll score an interview in no time.
Dan Scalco is the founder and marketing director at Digitalux, a digital-marketing agency located in Hoboken, N.J. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds of businesses save time, increase leads and maximize sales.