Landing your dream job isn’t always a walk in the park. For some people, a stroke of luck can mean walking into the right person, while others have to gather years of experience before they can get to where they want to be in their profession.
Whatever way you reach your career goals is a journey unique to you, but you can always help yourself with a solid amount of preparation. In today’s day and age, things move quickly, including how quickly jobs are lost and taken. High competition means you need to stand out among the crowd, and sometimes you’ll need to do it quickly.
To help get your foot a little further in the door, coming prepared with a solid cover letter is something to be taken very seriously. Cover letters might seem outdated or unimportant; however, many companies still rely very heavily on the presentation of a candidate’s cover letter.
It can tell a hiring agent whether you’re fit for the job or whether you need some more experience or personality. The cover letter component of the hiring process should not be overlooked, and it can often be a beneficial tool for you to take advantage of to show off your grit, your personality, and your background.
Getting your dream job might be that much more attainable with an informative, interesting, and effective cover letter. If you’re on the job hunt, land your dream job with these cover letter hacks:
There’s nothing worse than using the same cover letter for all of your resumes. Even if you could be sure that your potential employers wouldn’t find out about the double dipping, you’re still likely to be missing out on a lot of opportunities that a resume and cover letter offer.
Creating unique cover letters is a must-have for every potential job. This is where you show off your experience and chops, but where you can also connect yourself to the company itself. It helps to show where you would fit in, why you would be valuable, and why they should call you in for a real interview.
Copying and pasting the same thing to everyone means that your cover letter has to be drab enough that it could make sense for a dog walking company and a writer for the New York Times all in the same breath. If you want to land your dream job, be sure to create unique cover letters that let your experience, potential, and personality shine through in ways that are most advantageous to each specific company.
If you’re applying for the dog walking company, you might want to highlight your previous experience with animals, your open schedule, or your knowledge of nearby dog parks. In comparison, a cover letter for the position of a writer for the New York Times might highlight your attention to detail, your college degrees, or your experience with social media and research.
Every cover letter, no matter how similar the jobs are, should be unique. Keep this in mind to ensure that you are showing off your most authentic self for each job you apply.
SHOW SOME PERSONALITY
A cover letter is your chance to do a few different things, but one of the things many people can’t agree on is whether or not to showcase your personality. While it’s not necessary for you to share your entire life story or tell an overwhelming number of jokes, it can be an advantage to show off some of your quirks or things that separate you from the rest.
Showing off your personality can be as simple as throwing in a tag line you often say, or sharing a story about how you got along with previous co-workers. You should dedicate a small portion of your cover letter to having a more personable approach, where you speak to your potential employers as real humans with real life stories. Just be sure it doesn’t overshadow your accomplishments and interest in the company.
Be sure to consider showing off your personality without overdoing it; give employers a small taste of your personality without giving it all away. This way, they’ll want to know more about you, and they’ll bring you in for a face-to-face.
No matter for whom you’re hoping to work, there is a very good chance their hiring agent doesn’t have a lot of time to go through your resume and cover letter. That being said, it’s important that you keep things brief. A long-winded cover letter that takes more than a few minutes to read likely is going to be skimmed over or ignored completely.
Before you start writing, make a list of all of your must-haves for a cover letter. What are the things you think are critical to your success? Narrow the points down to 4 or 5, and then stick with these facts. Make sure they’re the most impressive and memorable so that skimming doesn’t occur. Going on for too long likely means a lot of your best stuff gets overlooked, especially if you leave it until the end.
Employers will appreciate that you are giving them something straight to the point. Impress them further when you’re working in their offices.
NAME DROP EARLY
Unfortunately, it’s not always about how hard you’ve worked or what you’ve accomplished that gets you in the door. Sometimes, it’s more about who you know than what you know, and this can make all the difference if you name drop early in your cover letter.
If you’ve got a connection to the business or know someone of significance within it, it’s not unheard of to slide in a harmless name drop, but you’ll want to do it early. Mentioning someone of significance to a company in the first or second sentence will make your cover letter more memorable and might catch their eye a little more quickly.
SHOW SOME INTEREST
Is there one specific fact or point of interest that has you driven to succeed with this company? What is it and why? If you have a unique or cool story that you can tell in two sentences or less, you might make a more memorable candidate than someone who shows no interest in the company.
Maybe you grew up nearby as a kid or your whole family has worked there in the past. Whatever it is, try to display your keen interest in the company and even your knowledge of where it is headed. For example, if you’re planning to work for a quality cartridge and ink toner establishment, you might express your long-time interest in computer and printer technology or the specific brands you’ve worked with in the past.
Your cover letter doesn’t need to be full of quotes from other employers and coworkers; your potential employers will likely want to make some of these decisions for themselves about you. However, throwing in an effective testimonial or small tidbit that a coworker has said about you can often be effective.
Try to combine a testimonial with a skill you think will be valuable to your new employer—e.g., “I take pride in my attention to detail and was often referred to by my previous employer as the one who didn’t miss a thing.”
COMBINE YOUR RESUME AND COVER LETTER IN ONE FILE
This might seem a little tedious, but it cannot be expressed enough that hiring agents only have a little time to go through all of the resumes they’re being sent. With that being said, making their job quick and easy is likely to get your points and, sometimes, might be the thing that stops them from flipping right past your resume entirely.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that a hiring agent only has a few minutes to take you into consideration, so make sure, when they open your files, everything is ready for them. That means including everything they ask for, such as a cover letter, resume, head shots, and whatever else they require in one file. This way, they won’t need to go back and find your email to open the second, third, and fourth files.
Not only does this save them time, but it likely shows them that you recognize that time is money, and you’re ready to impress quickly and efficiently.
NUMBERS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Sometimes numbers can be more effective than words, so try to implement these in your cover letter when you can. If you know some of the stats from a previous job that you’ve helped to improve, then be sure to highlight these numbers to make it clear just how much of a difference your expertise can make.
These numbers could express things like increased conversion rates, annual sales, customer growth, etc. that you’ve personally helped to maintain or improved at another job. Be sure to request these stats as soon as you leave a company to ensure that you have them on hand for your next venture.
Even if you know from friends or family that an employer is laid back, you will still want to remain professional and respectful in your cover letter. Landing your dream job will require that you speak to your potential employer as though you know nothing about them, except that you want to impress them.
This means addressing cover letters formally and using a tone that is respectful. Whether you’re applying for a retail job or the owner of a corporation, never underestimate the power of being professional. It’s great if you can build a relaxed relationship with your employer once you get the job, but starting off in a relaxed tone can be both unsuccessful and possibly offensive.
No employer wants to feel like they’re not taken seriously, so give them that respect, and it will pay itself back in dividends.
RELY ON MORE THAN EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
While having a strong educational background is a good thing, it’s not necessarily the thing that will get you in the door. Depending on the job, an employer may be more interested in your real-life experiences, your strongest skills, and what you plan to bring to the company.
That being said, try not to dwell for too long on your educational background. Certainly, if your job requires a lot of credentials, then be sure to include these, but your personality and personal skills should also shine through.
AVOID POINTING OUT NEGATIVES
Employers do not want to hear about what you lack; in fact, they’re mostly interested in the skills you do have and that you plan to bring to the table. Even if a job application outlines a few skills that you don’t already possess, pointing those out in a cover letter isn’t necessary.
For many employers, finding the right employee might be less about having all of the right skills, and more about finding someone who has a great personality and who can easily be taught the required abilities. Do not assume that you’re not qualified for a job, and certainly don’t make an employer feel that way. They have likely hired many people in the past, and they will know what they’re looking for.
If you’re unsure whether you’ve nailed your cover letter, consider reading it out loud to someone else or having them read it on their own. Having a fresh set of ears or eyes to go over your writing may help to point out glaring mistakes you’ve missed or to make suggestions about your tone or attitude.
Explain to them ahead of time who the potential employer is and what kind of voice you’re going for. This kind of direction can be very helpful, or you might send it along to someone who has previously applied to a similar position.
If you’re getting ready to apply for some new positions, be sure to take your cover letter seriously regardless of the work. Land your dream job with these cover letter hacks that are sure to help you intrigue and impress potential employers from start to finish.