Wondering what makes a good cover letter? It’s all about making it personal to you. Here are four of our best cover letter tips for 2020 to make sure you land the interview.
By: Ashley Dolar | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma
What makes a good cover letter? There are some accepted cover letter formulas out there, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. It takes an element of artistry, a penchant for perfect grammar, and a whole lot of practice to get your cover letter just right.
Really, a winning cover letter boils down to two things: 1) explaining your unique qualifications for the job posting and 2) generating excitement about you as a candidate. If you can do those things, you have a shot at an interview. (And, yes, you totally need a cover letter!)
Your cover letter should be short; the average recruiter spends only six seconds with each job application, so you should usually aim for three to four tight paragraphs.
So, what’s the secret sauce? Read on to find out how to write a game-changing cover letter that can get you in the door and land you the job.
Our Four Best Tips for a Great Cover Letter in 2020
1.) Your Professional Philosophy
What should the first paragraph of a cover letter include? This is where you hook the hiring manager and convince him or her to keep reading. So, we suggest that you skip the tired introductions and get to the good stuff right away.
Try writing about what you bring to the table in terms of motivation and past successes. Remember, you aren’t just rattling off qualifications here—your resume already does that. This is the time to share your worldview as a professional and how that makes you an asset to the organization.
Keep the tone conversational, upbeat, and positive. It should be written in your voice, using words you would actually say out loud. However, it shouldn’t be as casual as your LinkedIn Summary. This is still a formal business letter.
“Hi. My name is John Smith. Please consider me for this job posting at XYZ Company.“
2.) The Company’s Mission (Bonus Points for their Actual Mission Statement)
In the first section, you introduced yourself as a prospective employee. Now it’s time to explain that you are a good fit not just for the position, but for the organization’s culture and values as well.
If possible, include the company’s mission statement in this part of your cover letter (You can usually find it on their website.) Then tie it back to your professional goals.
This can be tricky because you don’t want to sound like you are sucking up and you certainly don’t want to stretch the truth. Being authentic and succinct is usually the best way to score points.
“I have had a passion for creating affordable medical devices since I was five years old.“
3.) Specific Stories from Your Resume
There’s not enough room on your resume for every important detail, so this is the perfect place to elaborate on your work history. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a well-crafted story is worth even more.
Think of this as presenting your case to the job jury. First, you need compelling evidence – usually from the bullet points on your resume — and then you need to expand upon your biggest accomplishments by providing more context. In other words, hammer home that you are the best match for the position with one or two personal stories.
Did you increase sales by 30 percent? Tell me about how you did it!
Did you solve an accounting problem for your company? Give me the details!
Did you attend a life-changing leadership seminar? Spill it!
(Even if you’re a recent graduate without much experience, you can still find stories from college to highlight your skills.)
“In my previous experiences, I have been in charge of watering plants and answering phones, which highlights my responsible nature and ability to multitask.“
4.) A Call-to-Action (Including When to Reach You)
Congratulations, you made it to the end of your cover letter! You only need a few more sentences to wrap it up.
Always close with a direct ask for an interview and provide your contact information with the best time to reach you. Remember to choose your words carefully—this is your last opportunity to make an impression.
“Thanks for reading my cover letter! I look forward to hearing from you.“
You can follow this basic outline for most cover letters, but the power comes from personalization. The key is to make it your own by sharing your philosophy, goals, and stories as they relate to the job you’re chasing.