The chances of your cover letter being read are very slim. If you send your CV and Cover Letter to a recruiter or hiring manager, if they open your email, they’re likely to read only your CV. So what’s the point of writing a cover letter?
Firstly a cover letter a great place to put a selection of keywords that will help your CV to beat the relevance score in a companies applicant tracking system. Secondly, I firmly believe the best way to find a new role is through hiring manager outreach, where you send your CV directly to the hiring manager.
If you’re going to send your CV to the hiring manager, you’ll need some form of an initial letter to introduce yourself and get the hiring manager interested in reading your CV.
Writing a Cover Letter is often the hardest part of the “Job Search” as candidates find it very difficult to write factually about themselves in a positive light. Your Cover Letter needs to solve three questions if it’s going to add any value to your job application.
It needs to tell the hiring manager why you’re the best person for the job, demonstrate that you can effectively communicate your objectives, and thirdly and probably most importantly, make sure the hiring manager opens your CV.
The Two Most Important Sections
Whether you’re writing a cover letter that you intend to use for hiring manager outreach or adding it to your CV for job applications it very unlikely it’s going to be read. In that rare occurrence when it does get read, generally the first couple of lines and last couple of lines will be read.
Rather than trying to talk further about the entire writing process, we’re going to focus on these two sections and how you can get these sections right. Unfortunately, there is no one perfect way to open your cover letter, but there are a few cover letter tips that make sure that your cover letter impresses the hiring manager.
Tips To Open Your Cover Letter
Experience and Achievements – Candidates often start writing their cover letter by stating their current job title and their achievements with the intention of impression the hiring manager. The idea is to use your most impressive results to explain how you’re a great candidate that they need to meet.
Example – As a Sales Manager with ten years of experience in Brand Name International Companies, I have led teams that have increased sales by 25% over the last 12 months and doubled the profits made by my team by growing sales while reducing headcount.
The Motivation for the Job – Hiring Managers love candidates that show excitement and motivation for a specific job, as this translates into a candidate that is motivated to work hard and show loyalty. Hiring Managers love this approach, and often they will want to find out more about you.
Example – I am very excited to be applying for the role of Sales Manager within your company. I have wanted to work for (the company that your applying for) for many years and feel that the time is right given my knowledge and work experience in similar companies (name a few).
Company-Specific Keywords – Larger Companies, especially Brand Name Companies will often use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and will search through the thousands of Cover Letters and Resume that are received each day for a few specific Keywords. You can bet that a few of those keywords will be keywords from their motto’s or mission statement. If these company-specific keywords are within your cover letter, it will be chosen and will be read.
Example – Google’s Mission Statement is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” If you were applying for a software engineer position and your cover letter started out with something like, “As a software engineer with ten years of experience working for well-known technology companies, I want to work for a company who helps to organize the world information and make it universally accessible and useful”, you can be confident that it will be picked up and read.
Name Dropping – The easiest way to get a new job is by using your network. A referral is a big bonus and will provide the employer with a good reference. Most of the best candidates I have met over the years have come from my network and were referred from contacts. A cover letter that has a reference will always be read.
Example – My name is Nick Jones, I recently spoke with one of your colleagues Nick Clark who mentioned about an opening with your sales team and recommended that I contact you directly as I believe I am a great candidate due to……..
Current Event – To make this example work for you, you will need to read up on the company and find some recent news that you can use in your opening lines. The idea here is to impress the hiring manager with your current events knowledge and use this to your advantage.
Example – Recently, your company has been mention in Bloomberg and Reuters because of your merger with company X. After reading this article and the prospects for your company and I have excited to send you both my Cover Letter and Resume. I believe I would be the best candidate because of my…………..
As mentioned above, even if your cover letter is not read in its entirety, the first few and last few sentences will be read. Above should give you some excellent cover letter tips on how to open your cover letter, while below I have tried to explain how you should close your cover letter.
Tips To Close Your Cover Letter
Remember it’s important to tailor your cover letter for each job application. A recruiter has probably “skim-read” your cover letter, and the last couple of sentences are where you can inspire the recruiter it read your resume.Leaving a bad impression means that a recruiter will skim-read your resume and miss out on any vital information which would have helped to separate yours from the crowd.
Excitement – Employers love positivity, and a strong cover letter that shows your positivity towards both a company and a position will go a long way towards proving that you’re the right candidate for this role.
Example – I am excited by this position and look forward to interviewing with you where I can show you how I will be a great hire for your company.
Passion and Loyalty – The biggest fear for any hiring manager is that they spend time and effort training an employee only for them to leave for a new opportunity. Companies want employees that are loyal and will remain in the company for an extended period. This response shows that you’re passionate about the industry and have given some thought to your future career.
Example – This position will allow me to show my passion for the industry and given the opportunities within (the company you’re applying to) I know I will be a loyal employee who performs well.
Qualifications and Experience – This is a very similar response to the answer above; however the difference here is that you’re showing that you have both the skills and experience to help the company develop further in the future. It’s important to remember that you’re applying to be a member of a team.
Example – I believe that my qualifications and experience will be beneficial to your company in the long term and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you in person.
Forward – while this statement may seem very forward, it works well and often recruiters and hiring managers will wait for your call. The important part is to specify a time frame for your follow up call. There is no point in saying something like “I hope to speak with you soon to arrange an interview” as this does not show anything. If you have said you’re going to call to arrange an interview, make sure you do.
Example – I will call you next week to follow up and arrange an interview with you.
Final Cover Letter Tips
Remember, the opening and closing sentence of your cover letter are the most important.
If you want your cover letter to impress, you must make sure that you create a positive impression and leave the recruiter with a positive impact of you.