Cover letters are often thought of as just another formality in the job application process. However, cover letters can be crucial to getting an interview. A good cover letter can help you stand out from other candidates and get your foot in the door with a potential employer. They also give you an opportunity to showcase your creativity and personality while providing more information about yourself than is typically available on a resume alone. Here are 10 tips to write a cover letter that will help you land interviews faster!
1. Keep It Short and Sweet.
The more you can say in a short amount of space, the better. Cover letters shouldn’t be full-length novels; three to five sentences or about 100 words is ideal for most cover letters. You also don’t need to use flowery language, just be professional and straightforward. Saying too much in a cover letter can cause you to lose the attention of your reader, so be concise and to the point. If you feel like writing more than five sentences for any reason, do it! Just remember that brevity is always key.
2. Use Action Verbs.
Action verbs are words that give you an idea of what the person is doing. Action verbs can help portray your skills and talents in a better way than just using a list of adjectives to describe yourself. To figure out if a verb is an action verb or not, all you have to do is read the sentence with the word removed. If the sentence still makes sense – it’s most likely an action verb – but if it doesn’t, it’s not an action verb. For example: “I am a very responsible and hardworking individual who is dedicated to ensuring that deadlines are met.” (action verb) vs. “I’m responsible and really good at my job.” (not an action verb)
It can be easy to miss typos and grammatical errors in your own writing, which is why it’s important to have someone else look over your cover letter before you send it. Don’t just ask a friend to read over the first draft of your cover letter – be sure that they go through and carefully proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes as well! If you’re not sure how to spot a grammar mistake, use a computer program that points them out to you. Always be sure that your cover letter is in tip-top shape before you send it off.
4. Include Data.
As much as possible, try to include data about your accomplishments and successes in your cover letter. If you had a specific project that you are especially proud of, mention it! If you’ve won awards or received recognition for anything in your career, be sure to include that as well. Also consider including information about any classes, extra-curricular activities, or professional development training that is relevant to the job at hand. Including data will help make your cover letter more interesting and persuasive.
5. Keep It Personal.
Job application letters are one of the best ways to show an employer that you’re passionate about the specific job that you’re applying for, so be sure to mention why this position, company, or industry is meaningful to you. You can also use your cover letter as a chance to explain any employment gaps that may be on your resume. If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to employment gaps – just explain them! Make sure that every cover letter you write includes enough information so that an employer can understand why you’re excited and passionate about what they do.
6. Use Keywords.
Use relevant keywords from the job description when you can. For example, if a job posting mentions that experience with the Adobe Creative Suite is preferred, use terms like Photoshop and InDesign in your cover letter to show that you have relevant skills. Mentioning keywords will make it easier for an employer to match up candidates during the screening process and narrow down the number of applicants. Not only that, but it will show the employer that you’ve done your homework and exactly what is needed to be successful in this job opportunity.
7. Don’t Forget the Basics.
Make sure you have a cover letter when applying for jobs. If asked for one, make sure to include all the basic elements in writing a letter. Also, make sure that your cover letter is neatly typed, error-free, and on company letterhead or resume paper. There are lots of free cover letter templates on the internet – you can easily find one based on the job description.
Bonus tip, use Venngage — an online graphic editing platform that also provides unique and creative cover letter templates for all job seekers to use.
8. Keep It to One Page (or Less!)
A rule of thumb for a well-written cover letter is to keep it under one page – the shorter, the better! If you need to write extra documentation or information in your cover letter, be sure to put them on separate pages. Don’t use more than two sheets of paper. When applying for jobs, make sure that your resume and cover letter are tailored to each individual position – don’t send out the same cover letter to every employer because it will show.
Also, remember that the purpose of your cover letter is to get an interview. It shouldn’t be so long and complicated that it bores potential employers away.
9. Always Address the Reader.
Always address your cover letter to a specific person, rather than “To Whom It May Concern.” If you’re not sure who will be reviewing your resume or considering you for a position, visit the company’s website and find out. Search through their “About Us” page to see if any executives’ names are mentioned, and use those when addressing your cover letter.
10. Customize Your Letter.
Customizing your cover letter will still allow it to be personalized, even though you’re not able to write a completely unique cover letter for each employer. However, if you’re not sure what to do when addressing your cover letter, it might be best to send out one generic cover letter for all of your applications instead of attempting to customize them. Keep in mind that many employers will look over hundreds of resumes and cover letters before making their final decisions, so avoid spending too much time to write a cover letter that might not even make it past the computer.
Cover letters should not be long and complicated — they should be short, to the point, and tailored to each individual position. Remember that their purpose is to get an interview. If you’re not sure what information or documentation needs to go into your cover letter, don’t worry! Along with these tips and a little bit of help from Venngage, you’ll surely be able to make the best cover letter that will land you your dream job!