Plus How to Write an Effective Cover Letter for the 21st Century
Okay, so you probably know what a cover letter is (but if you don’t, it’s a way to introduce yourself to recruiters when applying for a job). But you may be wondering, “Do I even need a cover letter? They are so old school!”
The fact of the matter is, recruiters still read them! Cover letters aren’t really old school. However, what IS old school is how people write them. “To Whom This May Concern” is a dusty old phrase that reminds us of some giant tome hidden deep in a library you should never pull out anymore because it just isn’t relevant anymore…you know the one were talking about–the one the librarian has forgotten is there so it hasn’t made it into the discard pile yet.
What is a Cover Letter & How Can You Write a Good One?
So to help you think of your cover letter as a fresh opportunity to make a good impression, here are some pointers on writing a cover letter that will get you noticed in the 21st century.
Ditch the Bland Introduction
You don’t want to bore the recruiter to death with a bland cover letter. An uninspiring cover letter is a sure fire way to have your application end up straight in the recycle bin where the only thing dying is your hopes of landing your dream job. Instead, think of a story or project example you can share from a past employer they need to know about. Save the, “I get along with everyone” cliche for your compost bin and your list of qualifications and skills for your resume.
Heard it from the Grapevine
Do not, and we repeat, do NOT start out your cover letter by telling the reader how you heard about the job opening. The only time you should include this is if they have specifically asked you to include it in your cover letter. Instead, take the space to describe what you can bring to the company that is unique. A cover letter is your first opportunity to sell yourself (but don’t be boastful), so don’t blow it!
Now we mentioned telling the recruiter a story. But don’t turn it into a novella. In fact, most recruiters won’t even read a cover letter that fills one entire page. So keep it concise. Keep in mind that the goal of a cover letter is to entice the recruiter to bring you in for an interview. To learn more about writing short and concise cover letters, check out our article on “What Twitter Can Teach You About How to Write a Cover Letter.”
Who Cares What You Want?!
No seriously. Recruiters don’t care about what you want. #hardtruth. They also don’t want the cliche statements about how their general mission connects with you. That is not going to get you in the pile “To Call for an Interview.” Instead, talk about the company’s challenges and how you can help solve those issues. Make sure you dig deep and be specific. They aren’t just looking for someone to join their company, but someone who knows what the job is all about. To help you dig deep, talk to someone who knows the company for 15 minutes. This can make all the difference and help you stand out from the sea of other applicants.
At the Close
Keep the closing line of your cover letter simple. Don’t make it corny and do not be presumptuous with a “looking forward to the interview!” statement. Instead, say something like, “ I look forward to learning more about the [fill in the blank] role.”
One Final Piece of Advice
Lastly, keep your cover letter authentic and personable. Write it a little more casual than you might be used to, if you were once writing those stuffy old school ones.