One of the best ways to stand out in your job application is to write a killer cover letter. It’s true that not all hiring managers read cover letters, but it’s also true that some of them still do. If you’re waffling on whether or not to add a cover letter, assume that someone will read it, and capitalize on the opportunity to introduce yourself. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing the perfect cover letter. At the end of this post there is a link to a free cover letter template. Get it and start using it in your job search.
The most important rule to remember when writing a cover letter is that you should take a less is more approach. The purpose of your cover letter is to present an argument that you’re the best person for the job—not drone on about the details of your work history. Keep the content short but impactful. Your cover letter should be no more than four paragraphs, and it should be full of reasons to interview you.
Remember, the whole point of the job application process is to demonstrate that you’re the best person to fill a position. If you can do that, then you instantly improve your odds of getting an interview request—the holy grail of the job hunt. Here’s how to write it.
The intro section should do two things: express your interest in a position, and briefly explain why you’re a unique candidate. To do that, simply state the position that you’re applying for and make it clear that you have the skills and experience necessary to do the job well. Here’s an example of how both of those pieces fit together: Please consider me for the position you have open for Marketing Director. I have more than fifteen years of experience in marketing and communications and my background in B2B marketing and sales enablement makes me uniquely qualified to excel in this job.
The best way to demonstrate what you can do in the future is to show what you’ve done in the past. In the results section of your cover letter, add three bullet points, that show what you’ve accomplished, how long it took you, and the business result. The point here is to be brief but impactful. Tell them why they should pick you for an interview.
Here’s an example: Developed and launched a new brand identity into the market that generated revenue within the first six months. This statement includes the accomplishment (new brand identity launch), the timeline (within the first six months of the person joining the team), and the business result (generated revenue). One thing to keep in mind about this section is that it should not duplicate the content from your resume. Think of your cover letter as the place where you show your results at a high level, and your resume as the detailed description of how you achieved those results.
Finally, your cover letter should close with a call to action. It’s more likely that you’ll get someone to take an action if you tell them what action to take. In this case, you want an interview. Therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for an interview in your closing. Here’s an example: Please feel free to contact me so that we can schedule a time to discuss this position.
Your cover letter may not be the difference between you getting picked or rejected for an interview, but you should work under the assumption that it might. You’ll never know if your cover letter gets read, but that should not stop you from putting your best effort forward. If you need a starting point, check out this free cover letter template that incorporates all of the direction above. Enclose it with your custom resume the next time you apply for a position and watch the interview requests roll in.