Are you a "generic" employee?
Of course not! You have unique skills, experience and personality traits that will make you an indispensable part of the team you will eventually join.
But does your cover letter reflect all of that?
If you're still using a generic one, probably not. A customized cover letter – one that closely matches the job description and presents your unique value – is essential to setting yourself apart in a recruiter's eyes.
Before you apply to your next job, use these tips to craft a compelling cover letter that positions you as the ideal candidate:
Only apply to jobs for which you're a good match. Make sure you meet at least the basic qualifications for the position. If you're not remotely qualified, even the best cover letter in the world won't get you the job.
Skip the boring opening sentence. If you lead with a statement like "I am submitting this resume in response to your online posting for a (job title)," you're putting yourself in the same category as 90% of the other job seekers out there. Tailor your first sentence to the position and lead with an opening statement that gets a recruiter's attention. Consider an opening sentence that:
- Highlights one of your key accomplishments (relevant to the available position).
- Poses a thought-provoking question.
- Includes a hard-hitting quote about you from a former employer.
- Shows you've done your homework. Reference a recent mention of the employer in the news or cite a statistic about the organization's performance. Just make sure you choose a topic or number that you can tie back to the position you're seeking.
Use the job posting details. Read the description carefully and list the key criteria the employer requires (skills, education and experience). For each, list your skills, experience and accomplishments that are relevant. Create a bulleted list that demonstrates how you meet the essential requirements and use this as the basis for your cover letter's body.
You can either present the information in bulleted format or write a few well-crafted sentences – whichever you're more comfortable with. Just keep these points in mind:
- Don't rehash your resume. Be careful not to cut-and-paste information directly from it. Your cover letter should provide a high-level overview and summary of why you're the ideal candidate.
- Use subtle language. Instead of writing "Here is why I'm the ideal candidate," try a softer approach. Explain, through examples, how or why you possess a desired attribute or position requirement.
- Include key terms listed in the job posting. The recruiter will likely skim your cover letter; words that are an exact match will grab his attention.
Take the match one step further. Research the company online to find out what their culture and values are like. Then, detail how your personality and soft skills make you a good cultural fit for the organization.
Close professionally. For many job seekers, the closing paragraph is an afterthought. Don't miss out on this final opportunity to set yourself apart! Make sure your final paragraph “seals the deal” – leaving a lasting, favorable impression of your candidacy. Clarify your next action steps with a sentence that's confident, concise, specific and direct – without being cocky.
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