By Colton Withers
I've been told time and again that my cover letters are wow-inducing. I know, a strange flex, right? Of all the mediocre talents, Colton. BUT. I firmly believe a strong cover letter is the difference between being moved to the reject pile and moving forward in the search process. I've learned a few different strategies for writing for that "WOW factor" over the years. Here are my top 5 tips for writing a cover letter that will land you the job:
Think about your reader: As a hiring manager myself, it pains me to read a cover letter that starts with "It is with great pleasure that I...". And chances are I'm not alone. Ensure you have a strong opening sentence that begs the rest of your letter to be read. Tell a story, share a powerful quote, and be honest. Find a way to interject some personality right away.
Keep it brief: It's always harder to write concise material—ask any author. Be economical with your words and what you choose to talk about. Keep your letter to less than one page.
Show you've put some effort in: I know all the hoops to jump through can be a challenge when applying for jobs (decision-makers in human resources! Why do I have to type my work experience in after uploading my resume?!), but do a bit of research about the organization you're applying for as well as the position. I'm not suggesting you map out a 6-point plan to greatness in a letter, but I am suggesting that you show the reader that you've done some homework and that you're serious about your candidacy for the position. Do specific job duties make your heart sing? Share it in those terms. Do you feel a sense of connection to the mission? Talk about it in terms that are relatable and conversational.
Your personality matters: One of the best pieces of advice I've received about the job search is to make sure that your personality shines through right away. As you are! If the hiring team doesn't like it, it wasn't meant to be anyway. Make sure that if you lead with humor, so does your cover letter. If you love films or movies, throw in a few quotes. Oprah's biggest fan? I've been known to throw in an Oprah show reference in a cover letter! It's important to...
Be authentic: Find your voice and let that shine through. If you're not a social butterfly, how do you communicate that you're passionate about a project or idea? Find that energy and put that down on (digital) paper. Readers and hiring managers want to know that you're passionate about the work, but make sure that you're authentic to who you are as a person. Don't write a cover letter for "Susie Sunshine" if you're more of a "Cerebral Sally"!
I hope that these tips are helpful for you in your journey to finding that dream job. Even if you don't dream of labor, I hope that you find a career that's fulfilling to you and allows you to show up authentically. GOOD LUCK!
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Do you any tried and true tips for writing a fabulous cover letter? Share them in the comments below!