New year, new job?
If you’re kicking off the new year with a job hunt, you’re not alone! Finding a job can be difficult, especially amid the pandemic when millions of Americans are unemployed and trying to rejoin the workforce. The good news is, there are several ways you can make your application stand out, including submitting a strong cover letter. Ready to get started? Read on to discover our top five tips for writing a cover letter that will catch employers’ attention and get your application to the top of the pile.
If you can, try to find out the name of the supervisor you would be reporting to in this position, and address your letter to them directly. If that information’s not available, even referencing the name of the department and company in your greeting is better than “To Whom it May Concern.” Establishing a human connection right at the top of the page will put the hiring manager in the mood to learn more about you!
Use your network
Did someone recommend that you apply for the position? Do you know someone who works there who enjoys their job? Mentioning a connection you already have to the company and its employees can show that you’re familiar with their values and what they do.
Don’t know anybody there? No problem! You can show a personal connection, and that you’ve done your research, by explaining why you’re interested in the field and why you want to work at that company specifically.
Add, don’t repeat.
Your cover letter doesn’t have to stand alone—employers use it in conjunction with your other application materials to determine if you’re a good fit for the job. It helps to think of this letter as one piece of an overall portrait of you. So, while it does make sense to emphasize relevant work or education experience, overall, you want to avoid too much repetition of information already available on your resume. Use your cover letter to highlight personal qualities, skills, experiences, and hobbies relevant to the job that might not show up elsewhere in your materials. Brag a little bit!
A cover letter should almost never be more than one page. Use clear language that gets to the point, and avoid filler words like “very,” “really,” and “seems,” which take up space without providing information. Writing in multiple short paragraphs, rather than one or two large ones, is best practice for letter-writing—it gives the hiring manager a clear understanding of what you want them to learn about you in each section.
Check your work.
Nothing can put a damper on your claim that you have great attention to detail like a letter full of typos! Even though you probably feel eager to get your application out in the world, resist the temptation to send without reading over your letter – at least twice! Use the spell checks and grammar checks integrated in word processing programs like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, or install a free plug-in like Grammarly for even more comprehensive revision suggestions. If you can, have a friend or loved one do a final read before you hit send—the best proofreading tool is a fresh set of eyes!