Cover letters are an important component of your career documents. Not every hiring manager reads cover letters but you cannot take the chance on this. Cover letters are an opportunity to make the best case scenario for yourself or they can leave the hiring manager unimpressed with you. Generic cover letters should be customized for each position that you are applying for – just like your resume!
What grabs the positive attention of a hiring manager when reading a cover letter? The cover letter is:
- Has personality and a human voice
- Does not repeat information in the resume
- Answers questions they might have about a candidate (why this job, why now?)
- Creates a connection to the company
- Has a closing statement with a call to action
Conversely, what is seen as a negative cover letter by a hiring manager? The cover letter:
- Simply repeating information in the resume
- Lacks additional information
- Is not well written
- Repeats job the posting
- Doesn’t persuade them that this candidate is right for the job
- Is boring
- Gives no insight to who the candidate is
One of the more difficult tasks in writing a cover letter is to create a human voice. You can answer any number of these questions to assist you in creating a personable and engaging cover letter.
- Why this company
- Why are you changing/seeking jobs now
- Why you are moving to the area
- If you are making a career change, why are you making it and how are you qualified for this position
- Problems that you can fix
- What you bring to the table
- How you are equipped to improve things in the new company
- How you will contribute to team goals
- How past managers have described you
- What are your core values
- If you have a career gap – what have you been doing?
- What is your “added value”
- How you build success and have made a difference
- Why you enjoy what you do
- What are your proudest moments
It is important to address your cover letter to a specific person (the hiring manager) if at all possible. You can possibly find this information by calling the department and asking for the name of the hiring manager, reviewing company websites, or networking. A personal approach is always appreciated. It shows that you go above and beyond and are willing to put in the extra work to get a job done.