Cover letters, do we still need these? The answer is an undeniable YES! Cover letters are a critical introduction to you as an employee, and while it may seem like they’re an extra or unnecessary step in the application process, they do still provide candidates with an important opportunity. Here’s a quick look at what you should still put in your cover letter and why it’s so important to customize them for each job or company you are applying to.
Your First, First Impression
Cover letters are your first real chance to engage prospective employers. There’s a reason that most employers request one in addition to an applicant’s resume. It’s because when compared to a resume or CV, a cover letter helps answer the question that is at the forefront of a hiring manager’s mind, which is why do you want this job? While over time, candidates have fallen back on a boring, templatized cover letter style, they are still a really important opportunity for you to introduce yourself, note what job you are interested in and why you believe yourself to be a qualified candidate.
Start With a Hook
It’s essential to keep in mind that hiring managers often end up receiving hundreds of resumes and cover letters, so remember to keep it short, to the point, and differentiate yourself. You want to say something that grabs the reader’s attention right at the beginning of your letter. If you wait until the third paragraph to say anything interesting, then in all likelihood, you have already lost your reader. A good hook can be a statement of why this job is the perfect opportunity for your skillset and experience, or it can be something personalizing and memorable. The point of a hook is to entice readers to consider you right from the get-go. If you know you have a hiring manager’s attention, you give yourself the chance to shine further on down the hiring process.
Don’t waste your cover letter by simply restating the information that is included in your resume. Tell the story of what a great and accomplished employee you are. Pick one particularly relevant project or accomplishment to highlight in your resume and be specific about how the experience has prepared you for the position you are applying for. It’s really important to remember your audience when you are writing a cover letter, and do everything you can to tell the employer how you meet their needs as an applicant.
Share Your Knowledge
Many people make the mistake of not doing their research until the interview stage of the hiring process. Employers want the hire people who are excited by the thought of working for them. Show them that you have targeted their company as the next step in your career by researching a company’s mission, their recent projects, or even their mentions in the news. You’ll put yourself ahead of the competition by customizing your cover letter for a specific position and company, proving that you are committed to this opportunity.
Share Your Passion
Cover letters are notoriously dry and formal. While making sure that your professionalism shines through, it’s not a bad thing to let your personality shine through as well. People hire people they like and want to work with. It’s a good opportunity to reassure hiring managers that you are a friendly and engaged employee through a personalized cover letter.