The Cover Letter Makes a Comeback!
In over a decade of professional recruiting and supporting top staffing firms, large corporations and startups, I used to avoid, ignore and skip over Cover Letters. I didn’t read them, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. I just didn’t embrace the Cover Letter trend. But why?
In most cases, I found that a Cover Letter lacked valuable information or was sugar-coated with phrases like, “Do you want a streamlined, hard-worker with a creative eye for marketing and a knack for whimsical fun?.” No, thank you. My grumpiness towards cover letters was getting the best of me.
And then something changed. In the past few years, I’ve seen the Cover Letter format change. Suddenly, techniques and formats have improved. I’m getting excited about the evolution of the Cover Letter. Talented candidates have now found the balance of drafting a Cover Letter that pinpoints their strengths while also highlighting their work ethic and personality.
Here are a few best practices for you to spruce up your Cover Letter:
1) Write your Cover Letter in the same tone of voice that you use when you are speaking. Instead of formal language (i.e. To Whom It May Concern), try to engage your reader by taking a professional but friendly tone (i.e. To Tim Matterhorn, Director of Finance). The Cover Letter is an introduction and paragraphs should align with the tone of your resume.
2) Provide the staffing agency or recruiter some information that is not already listed on your resume. For example, share something that has you excited about the company or the position that you’ve applied to. Avoid lists or bullet points that detail your qualifications on your Cover Letter. Instead, highlight two to three accomplishments that you want the recruiter to know about you. Want bonus points? If you were referred by a current employee, mention that person (including name and title) in your Cover Letter.
3) Keep it short. If there are more than three short paragraphs on your Cover Letter, it’s too long. Your goal is to have someone review your full resume, and recruiters have multiple resumes to review for each position they work on. By keeping your introduction short, you keep recruiters engaged.
4) If the company that you are applying to is unique or has a specialty (such as digital marketing or healthcare financing), try to mimic the tone of the company culture. You can often get a feel for the company culture by reviewing the ‘About Us’ section on a website and the Career Page. You may even get a hint of company culture in how the job description is written. For example, if you are applying for a tech start-up that has a less formal company culture, keep your tone professional and light.
5) At the bottom of your Cover Letter, take a quick second to thank the hiring manager or recruiter for their consideration. Keep it short and authentic such as, “Thank you for your time and consideration. I am looking forward to learning more about this position.” This type of thoughtfulness grabs the reader’s attention; and candidates who take the time to do so, do not go unnoticed.
A well-written Cover Letter is sure to set you apart from other candidates. While your resume may be the blueprint of your experience and your potential, your Cover Letter is the invitation to get to know more about you. A great Cover Letter might increase the possibility of you receiving an Offer Letter.