As a recruiter, I rarely read any cover letters.
Most cover letters are poorly written, generic and superficial. I stopped reading once I saw the typical first sentence: “Dear Hiring Manager, I am interested in position X….” And they aren’t read because they repeat information from the resume. But now worse, with information buried in paragraphs.
Include a cover letter if the employer asks for one. If they don’t ask for a cover letter and you send one, it’s doubtful that it will be read.
Here’s how to write a good cover letter – a cover letter that will be read:
- Keep it short, less than 350 words. Make it direct and personal. Show your feelings.
- Focus the content on the company and its position. Explain deeply and sincerely why you want to work for this company. Don’t be shallow or generic. Here are some ideas to help you write meaningful, heartfelt content:
- Why are you so determined to work for this company? If you don’t admire this company, don’t fake an answer to this question. A fake answer will be evident to the recruiter.
- Show how their culture and values resonate with your values. Look for how the company demonstrates its values in some corporate program or activity. Then mention times in your past when you have taken action supporting the same values.
- What life experiences have you had that make their corporate mission relevant or compelling to you?
- Explain how you can add to the diversity of the company. Research the demographics of their employees to give you tips on how your identity can contribute to their diversity goals.
- Show HOW you meet/exceed the criteria of what they want in a candidate. Take 5-6 of the critical job responsibilities or required skills. Create a table in your cover letter, and next to each of the items that the company wants, describe how you meet/exceed their requirement. This comparison is exactly what a recruiter does while reviewing your resume. Including this comparison makes it easier for the recruiter to conclude that you are a good candidate to interview!