Cover letters are your introduction to a potential employer. Based on the contents and the presentation of your cover letter, you can either make or break an opportunity to land the job of your dreams. Don’t blow it by submitting a slapdash, half-baked summary that covers the bare essentials and reads like an owner’s manual. Instead, follow some of the cover letter hacks below to ensure your cover letter doesn’t get ditched.
1. Drop a name in the first sentence
Getting noticed by a hiring manager isn’t always about your skill, level of experience, or education. Sometimes, it’s about who you know. Dropping the name of a mutual contact can help put you over the top with an employer, but you also want to be careful not to bury that fact so deep that it gets overlooked. If you’re friends with or have worked with someone your potential employer knows, mention this in the very first sentence of your cover letter. It’ll instantly set you apart from all of the other applicants in the pile.
2. Focus on story
Consider how many cover letters an employer reads on a given day when there’s a hot opportunity available. Bearing this in mind, try to craft your cover letter with content that’ll make it a stand-out among the rest. If you can tell a story, you stand a much better chance of being remembered than someone who simply lays out the boring facts. Including professional anecdotes in your cover letter can accomplish the sometimes impossible task of getting a potential employer to identify with you. The more they relate, the better your chances.
3. Keep it formal
Even the most laid back, informal hiring manager can be put off by a job applicant that comes off presumptive. Your cover letter should be professional and formal, and should always address the recipient in a respectful manner. Don’t presume to be on a first name basis with them. Just as you’d never dream of showing up for a job interview in a t-shirt and jeans, you should never dream of addressing John Q. Employer as “Johnny.”
4. Don’t recycle your cover letter
Good jobs aren’t easy, and they’re not easy to get. If you find yourself taking shortcuts, like constantly recycling the same cover letter, stop. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all cover letter. Each job you apply for is unique and should be approached differently. Use the job listing to cater your cover letter to speak to the explicit needs of the employer – but never copy the language used in the job description.
5. Summarize your work experience, but be brief
Always be respectful of the fact your cover letter recipient is a busy person who doesn’t have all day to read your life story. Even if you feel that your accomplishments are extraordinary and deserve to be gone into in great detail, keep it simple. Short and sweet always wins out over long and tedious. Keep the summary of your work experience to no more than two or three sentences, and make it relevant to the job you’re applying for now. Economy of words always leads to greater impact.
Regardless of whether you’re seeking long-term employment or short-term freelance assignments, always put the same level of effort into every cover letter you create. Just because a company is looking to hire a web designer or UI designer for a one-off gig doesn’t mean that assignment won’t blossom into a lucrative relationship down the line. If you have any questions about how Artisan Talent can help you with other cover letter hacks or to find gainful employment, contact us today to learn more.