As our world gets more and more digital and the easiness of job application increases, the cover letter becomes less and less popular to applicants. Cover letter requirements are less and less clear. In some cases, companies don’t make it compulsory in their application process.
Even if the cover letter takes time to write and is difficult to make, companies expect their candidates to write a motivation letter and one that will be tailored for their job position.
The cover letter is expected to be short because the average time spent by a hiring manager on application material is around 1 minute. The difficult exercise here is to write a cover letter that is short to read but gives enough information for the company to invite you for a job interview.
Here are 25 tips that will help you design your cover letter
Your cover letter layout should remain simple, part of the Application Tracking System requirement is that your application material should no longer be fancy. It should use a simple layout that will help the system recognize quickly the important elements of your application.
2. Single page
Your cover letter should remain within the one page length, any longer motivation letter might prevent the hiring manager to read it.
3. 300 to 500 words
This is a good indication to help remaining within the acceptable length for a hiring manager to be reading your motivation letter. Here is the difficulty of this exercise: be short and interesting.
4. Write a unique letter for each job position
Writing a unique letter for each job position is necessary for 2 reasons, the cover letter should be genuine and must contain indications that you have read the job description, but also because the Applicant tracking system will also screen your cover letter and check for keywords that match the job description.
5. Focus on the company
Most candidates make the same mistake, instead of writing about the company and the added-value they will bring to the company, they do the opposite, they write about how the company would bring value to them.
6. Address it to a person
Make a few research and if the name of the hiring manager is not known, write to the human ressources person name, you will find the name easily on LinkedIn.
7. I am writing to apply for
Most Cover Letter starts by the same boring introduction, “I am writing to apply for the”, check up inspiration online if you need, by changing your introduction to a few other words will already make the hiring manager think differently about your application.
8. Stay yourself (don’t apologize but don’t brag)
In your cover letter, stay yourself but avoid apologizing or doing the opposite and telling how your former boss told you you were the best employee. This shows little self awareness and seem like your cover letter is based on perception, not facts.
9. Mention your connection to the company
If you have any connection to the company in which the job position is, mention it in your cover letter and describe the relationship in a few words. LinkedIn has revealed that more than 40% employees get hired thanks to their network.
10. Expand on your resume, don’t repeat it
It’s important you don’t repeat your resume in your cover letter. Your cover letter is about demonstrating your ability to do the job by telling more about yourself. Instead of repeating your resume, mention 2 or 3 facts that are relevant and will emphasize your application for the job position.
11. Go into on experience in details
While your resume summarizes briefly your experience, in your cover letter you can add more details. Select one or two that are relevant for the job position you apply and provide facts and results from what you have achieved.
12. Explain how your experience is valuable to solve the company’s problem
This is where the challenge arises in a cover letter, make some research and deduction about the potential challenge you would be able to tackle once you are in the job position.
13. Discuss actual challenge in your industry to demonstrate you have the expertise
If you cannot relate to the challenge of the position itself, take a step back and speak about the challenge you know in your industry. For instance with customers, partners etc.
14. If you just graduated, focus on your experience in your education and emphasize your hard and soft skills.
If you just came out of school, focus on your experience, internship, summer job, student association etc. It does not matter which experience you choose, but it is important that in those experiences you mention your soft skills (listening, problem solver, empathic, easy with change etc.)
15. Same as for your resume demonstrate your accomplishment with numbers
When you expand on your experience, use facts and numbers, the hiring manager needs to understand and visualize what you were able to accomplish and what was your positive impact on the company. For instance, the number of people you managed, the number of customers you gained, your sales increase, number of successful projects you led. Etc.
16. Demonstrate that you have understood their value, check their company website and social media
Tailor your cover letter to reflect the company value, based on your research, it is easy to understand if the company is very traditional, conservative or in the opposite. Often you will find most information on their social media, instagram is a great tool to understand the company identity.
17. Avoid cliche “out of the box thinkers” by using action verbs to describe your experience.
Most cover letters contain a sentence that would say that you are someone who thinks out of the box, same as the introduction, try to be different here and avoid using it.
In your cover letter, avoid using only the acronyms. Instead, add the full title and then the acronym. It wil be better recognized by the Applicant tracking system but also, the reader will feel at ease when reading your cover letter.
19. Contextualize with the pandemic, showing self motivation and capacity to work remotely
The current situation should not be left out in your cover letter, say a few words about it. In this situation, it is great to see on motivation letter, that the candidate is able to self motivate him or herself or can easily network using digital.
20. Ask for an interview
At the end of your cover letter, be bold and ask for an interview instead of letting it open. This is what your application material is about.
21. Sign-off with common ones
Avoid being too fancy in your sign-off, use the most common ones.
Sincerely Best; Regards; Thank you; Respectfully; Kind regards; Best regards.
You want the hiring manager to remember about the content of your cover letter and not the funny way you ended it.
22. Add a handwriting signature
The little touch which can make the difference here, is adding your handwriting signature, you can either print each cover letter, sign it and scan it again, or you can first sign a white paper and insert your handwriting signature at the bottom.
Using the PS at the end is sometimes a little game changer as well in a cover letter, but you need to make sure you use it to say something that would trigger the hiring manager process and that this could not fit in the cover letter text you wrote just above. It is used to say something different, a good way to demonstrate you think outside of the box without mentioning it.
24. Proofread first / Get a second opinion
Before sending any cover letter in your application, make sure you proofread it and if possible ask for a second opinion.
25. Read instructions from the job description and make sure your document is titled with its nature and your name
When you upload the cover letter on the application tool of the company, make sure you title the document with the nature and the name: cover letter _ Name and read the end of the job description, some companies mention a few instruction they expect their candidate to reflect on in their application material.
Going for a new job is almost a job in itself, the cover letter will be taking you some time but eventually will be your ticket to a whole new life.