Writing a cover letter can be daunting. You might be feeling stressed, confused, or intimidated by the process. Whether you want to relocate, feel stuck in your position, or need a job with higher pay, mastering the art of writing a cover letter can be the make-or-break factor to get you an interview. Even if you’ve updated your resume or practiced your interview skills, making sure that you’re applying the right cover letter principles could be the final piece of the puzzle.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions that are relevant for 2021 to help navigate the post-pandemic job boom. Here at YES, we’ve figured out how to write a cover letter designed to get you interviews. Our average/median client interviews with 5 employers, is approached by 10 recruiters if they get our LinkedIn, and gets a job in 8 weeks with a 16% increase in pay. In this article, we’ll delve into some of the most common questions we get on how to write a perfect cover letter. If you still don’t think you can write a cover letter that guarantees interviews, don’t worry! You can schedule a call with us for a free 30-minute Career Success Consultation.
Table of Contents:
Is a cover letter necessary?
Submitting a relevant cover letter makes getting an interview more likely, so there’s no reason not to submit one. If the decision comes down to you and another candidate, and the other candidate has a great cover letter, that extra bit of effort will stick out to the hiring manager, and they’re more likely to choose the other candidate. Why wouldn’t you give yourself the competitive edge?
What is the purpose of a cover letter?
You can accomplish a lot with the right cover letter. It serves as a bridge between the job posting and your resume, so the cover letter is as much about the employer as it is about you! You want to demonstrate that you have done your research and that you understand the employer’s needs, goals, challenges, and concerns about hiring the wrong person. The next step is to demonstrate how your experience is the perfect solution to those needs and concerns.
To summarize, your cover letter should be a demonstration of how you can provide value to the target employer. Keep in mind that you aren’t supposed to brag (please don’t write that you are “uniquely qualified,” for example) but rather provide evidence that inspires them to want you on their team.
How important is a cover letter?
A cover letter is one of your most valuable tools if utilized correctly. Although a resume is great for laying out your job history and skill sets, a cover letter is where you can really connect to an employer by showing that you understand their needs. You’ll want to use the cover letter to explain how your employment history can be of particular use to them in the position. You can also add points like your willingness or plans to move to their region.
Also, if a job is asking for a cover letter, you have to include one in order to be considered. Regardless, giving an employer more reasons to interview you in your cover letter is a smart move.
But here comes the real secret to the value of a cover letter. A study by neuroscientist Antonio Demasio found that people cannot make decisions if they lose the ability to feel emotion. In other words, people make decisions based on emotion, even if they later justify those decisions with logic. Carefully choosing the words you use in the cover letter will not only provide rational justification the hiring manager can use but also influence and shape how they feel about having you on their team. Those words should not only tell the story of what you have done but also paint a picture of how you would create similar results for them.
In order to have this emotional impact, YES combines carefully selected quantified accomplishments with Neuro-Linguistic Programming and psychological techniques.
What if I have no experience?
When you have no experience or are changing fields, including a cover letter becomes even more important. The cover letter provides an excellent opportunity to explain what education and character traits you bring in lieu of experience. You can also use this opportunity to highlight experience that might give you an edge in helping them even though it was not the experience they expected. If you make your cover letter really stand out and explain why you still are the best person for the job, you can still have a great chance at getting the job you want!
A well-kept secret is that the best employers hire attitude. They can train you on any skills they need, but shaping someone’s attitude and values is very difficult. Of course, if they urgently need a specialized skill for a senior or mid-level position, and you are not a good fit, you may need a magician to write your cover letter. However, in many other instances, you can use a cover letter to map your skills, attitude, and values that can close the gap, meet their goals, and make them money.
How long should a cover letter be?
This is a great question. It shouldn’t be longer than a page yet still needs to cover all the points we covered in the last few sections. This can be one of the hardest skills to master, so oftentimes it’s best to talk to a professional and let them decide what information is most relevant to the job you’re applying to. At YES, we write you a dynamic one-page cover letter that bears no resemblance to the typical cover letter. It utilizes all the most effective methods and positions you as a must-interview candidate.
What is the format of a cover letter?
The general format of a cover letter is your address, date, their name and address, greeting, intro, body, and closing. Remember that you need to keep this to a single page. The next few sections will give a brief overview of each section.
Your cover letter is less about formatting and more about the lasting impression you are trying to make. The goal here is for the hiring manager to say, “Let’s get this person in for an interview.” Ultimately, you’re trying to write a cover letter that sells you so that you can make the interview an opportunity to build on the positive impression you have made.
What is different about a career change cover letter?
A career change cover letter is a great opportunity to position yourself as an excellent resource for the target position, even though your resume might not be what they had in mind at the outset. Writing it like this can be a difficult process. Identifying what skills are transferable and relevant is something that takes a lot of skill and cover letter writing prowess to achieve. Of course, when you are making a career change, and you are competing against professionals who have experience in your new field, you may want to consider additional strategies to compensate for your lack of experience and give you a significant competitive advantage.
How many words should a cover letter be?
A cover letter shouldn’t be longer than a page. Recruiters and employers usually have hundreds of job applications they have to sift through. If your resume or cover letter is too long, they may skip right by it or at least feel that you are insensitive to their time constraints. So you want to stick with the most important information you can fit on one page with normal business letter formatting.
Who should I address a cover letter to?
Writing a cover letter heading can be difficult if you don’t have the name of the hiring manager. If you have their name, that’s always the best option to add a personal touch. In some cases, you can get the name of the hiring manager by calling the office and asking. Other times, you can guess who the hiring manager will be based on the position, as the hiring manager is typically the supervisor, and you may be able to guess what position supervises the one you want and then locate the individual through a keyword search on LinkedIn. Personalization is key!
In your heading, you should include your name, your address, and some form of contact information. This should be your phone number and a professional email address where you won’t miss an email. Put the date under your name. Then hit return four times and list the hiring manager’s name if you have it, job title, organization name, and then the organization address. (If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name and title, just address the letter to Dear Hiring Manager.)
How do I write a cover letter greeting?
A cover letter greeting is an important part of your first impression. This is also very dependent on the job. If you’re applying for a federal or established corporation position, you want to be more formal. If you’re applying for a younger, trendier company, you still want to be professional but less formal. Figuring out the company’s culture can help you craft the language of your cover letter greeting.
What do I put in the body of my cover letter?
Every letter needs to be tailored to the job. A generic cover letter that you write and send with every application turns off employers. A cover letter should include an introduction that suggests you understand the concerns of the employer with regard to hiring the right person for the position. Then you want to present how they will not experience those potential negative consequences with you in the position due to your skills and experience.
The body should contain descriptions of 3 or 4 different accomplishments that you think are most relevant to why you benefit the organization. These can include keywords that are mentioned in the job description that you want the recruiter or employer to know you have experience with. Then provide a few bullets about the benefits that the employer can expect from working with you.
If having professionals figure out how to best do this for you makes sense, don’t hesitate to schedule a free Career Success Consultation with us here at YES.
How should I end a cover letter?
End the letter by requesting an interview. You might think the fact that you want an interview goes without saying, but studies show that those who request an interview are more likely to get one.
Bonus tip: A cover letter is not about how well you write, nor is it about how pretty it looks. A cover letter is a fine-tuned marketing document. Its purpose is to convince the employer to put you in the 2% pile to be interviewed! That is the average percentage of candidates who make it to the interview, and your cover letter must land you there in about 6 seconds.
How do I measure the effectiveness of my cover letter?
You may think about showing your cover letter to friends and family for feedback. Keep in mind that while your contacts may be great writers, they may not be expert marketing copywriters. That means that the feedback you get could prove to be very misleading. The best way to measure the effectiveness of your letters is by the number of interviews you get. Our clients who establish great rapport with their interviewers may also ask the interviewer, “If you don’t mind my asking, what part of my cover letter made you decide I was a good candidate for this position?” The answer to this question will give you additional insight into what is working about your application. Questions like these have additional powerful objectives, which we cover in our interview skills blogs.
These are only a few basic tips on how to write a cover letter. Although this is a good starting point for how to set up your cover letter, optimizing the content within to make sure that you’re demonstrating your best self to an employer is really important.
Here at YES, we’re experts at creating cover letters that will get you interviews. Not only can we help you get a great resume, we can also help you find jobs in a new career field, show you how to get found by recruiters through your LinkedIn profile, tell you how to find jobs that are not advertised (the hidden job market), help you prepare for your interviews to get the offer, and more.
Check out our resume and job search services today and get the job you love. And if you’re ready to make the leap and start having us craft your cover letter, don’t hesitate to schedule a free Career Success Consultation with us.