QUESTION: How can I make sure my cover letter is interesting enough to capture the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager?
A captivating cover letter must do 3 things: 1) make a connection with the reader, 2) briefly address the employer’s needs and how your skills and experiences can meet those needs. Share relevant highlights from your work history or academics to back up your claims and 3) inspire the reader to take action … aka call you for an interview! Be memorable and follow up after you apply.
Write for the audience (typically an HR professional and the hiring manager). Use familiar language (pulled from their website or the posting) and a voice that aligns with their company culture (e.g. don’t be formal if they are casual and progressive). Include accomplishment statements that demonstrate your unique value and align
with the duties and goals of their position.
Decisions about which candidate to hire are often resolved because of a great cover letter. Recruiters and hiring managers already know an applicant’s skill and experience from their resume. What they can’t see is the human side of the candidate. A clever, well written cover letter, one that shows personality or even a sense of humor appropriately expressed, can win the day!/p>
Employers are interested in knowing what you can do for them. Try to avoid writing a cover letter that plays to your needs and wants. Instead, focus on identifying what you know about them, why you are applying with them, and perhaps a specific example or two on how you’ve met some of their needs in previous experiences. In a nutshell, focus on them and how you would be an asset to their mission..
If you follow the standard advice to use three standard (and boring) paragraphs, your letter won’t interest anyone. Be different. Start with “why.” Open up. Reveal your passion. Tell the employer why you love what you do and what led you to apply for the job. Don’t regurgitate your resume; expand on it. Passion plus accomplishments will catch their attention.
Cover letters represent your opportunity to display the research you have done on the intended company and position. Additional research may reveal the “pain point” or challenges that the company is experiencing within a competitive business environment. By conveying your knowledge of the company and addressing the challenges it faces, your cover letter will position you as a leading candidate.
Resumes are about you, cover letters should be about the company. Creating a targeted cover letter, specific to that company, outlining why you’re applying and how you can make an impact, is going to get more attention than a templated cover letter.