Nowadays, in most of the job application process, you can choose not to submit a cover letter. ''Is cover letter overrated and should I actually bother writing one?'' You ask.
My answer to that is: '' NO, it's still very important. And YES, you better write one!''
In this blogpost, I'll share with you why cover letter can set you apart and step by step how you can do it right.
What's a cover letter?
Cover letter is usually a one pager letter, an important add-on to your CV which explains your application intention to that specific job, elaborate your relevant job experience, qualification and how would you fit the company and the role you are applying to. It plays the role to show additional information and your personality on top of the CV to intrigue the HR or hiring manager to give you an interview.
Do employers care about cover letter?
Yes and No. Depends on the company and their hiring process. Some companies use cover letter to filter out the generic application, some companies don't require cover letter at all. Despite the decrease of the requirement from employer for the cover letter, many HR and hiring managers are still stressing the importance of the cover letter.
Because even if you tailor your CV to that specific job( which is something you absolutely should do), the CV itself is not sufficient to demonstrate why would you like to work for that specific company and specific position. The right motivation and intention is among one of the most important factor when making the hiring decision. To succeed in a job, not only you need to be qualified and have the skill sets to do it well, but also you need to have an intrencent motivation which helps you overcome obstacles when the challenges and difficult time comes.
Why most of the cover letters fail?
''But it's so hard to write a great cover letter.. '' You're probably thinking.
I feel you. I hate writing cover letter too. It's the least favorite thing I have to do during the job hunting process. Because it requires a lot more work to do: dig deep on why you want to work for that company and position, research thoroughly the company, the position, the hiring manager's name and title, compose a great story to sell your qualification and skillsets and so much more.
That's why we often just Google cover letter, find something generic, copy paste, change the title then submit. A cover letter can be submitted to any company and any position is not worth submitting. HR and hiring manager can see it through within the first paragraph.
When this happens, even if you have a perfect CV, you would miss out a big time to complete a great first impression to your potential employer. To submit a generic cover letter could even backfire and leave an impression that you are sloppy and not sincerely want this job.
5 Steps to write an unforgettable cover letter
Step 1: Find out the WHOM
Depends on the approach you would use to apply the job. There are 2 scenarios regarding to whom you should address the cover letter to.
Scenario 1: The name and title of the HR or hiring manager is indicated in the job post.
In this scenario, it's rather easy, you just need to make sure include HR/hiring manager's name and title on top of the cover letter. Also don't forget to write the name of the company and position.
Scenario 2: You don't know the name and title of the HR or hiring manager.
In this scenario, you need to be creative, and find the name and title of the HR/hiring manager. There are many ways you can achieve this. For instance, look for their career webpage, look for other job post on job portal, look for article/video where they have publicity of their HR or hiring manager.
Step 2: Figure out the WHY
Before writing the cover letter, you should already have clear ideas on the WHY.
Why does this particular company attract you?
Why would you like to take this position?
Why would work for this particular company and position make a difference for you and the company?
As mentioned earlier, to start your cover letter, you should clearly demonstrate why you particularly want this job and how the company's vision/product/culture resonate with your value and aspiration.
This will clarify your motivation and intention of your job application and draw attention for HR and hiring manager to read further.
A good example would be:
As a enthusiastic mountain climber, i firmly believe doing sports in nature would bring positive impact to people's life and raise awareness to the environmental issues. I’ve always admired Patagonia's brand stands for socially-conscious clothing, and yesterday I came across your job post in search of a social media specialist. I can’t believe that there’s an opportunity for me to be a part of it! As a marketer with 6+ years of experience posting conversion-optimized Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram posts, I just know I’d be a perfect fit.
In this example, the applicant connects his/her believes to the company's value and shows the excitement to the opportunity working for the company. At the same time, the applicant also mentions his/her expertise and how can he/she contributes.
Step 3: Know WHAT to include
After you clearly express your intention and excitement to the job. Now it's time to lay out what job experience/qualification/skill set that make you the best candidate for this job and how can you add value.
The secret to nail this part is to look for 3-5 qualifications/skill sets as the keywords/phrases which are indicated in the job post and map them to your relevant experience which clearly demonstrates your qualifications and skill sets.
For instance, if you find those phrases in the job post: strong analytical skill, ability to coordinate with multiple stakeholders, equipped to handle deadline
A good example would be:
In my 8 years product management experience, I've led a cross functional squad consist of developer, designer and QA engineer releasing a data analysis tool within 3 months tight deadline, this product later became an instrumental product suit of the company, adding 80% revenue growth year on year.
Step 4: End with Call To Action
Remember we talked about the goal of the cover letter in the beginning? It's to intrigue HR or hiring manager to reach out to you and ask you for an interview.
This makes it a logical final step to write a clear call to action for them to invite you to an interview.
A good example would be:
I’m keen to speak with your further about the value I can bring to Stripe. And I look forward to hearing from you in the coming days regarding the possibility of an interview.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Step 5: Be smart about the HOW
The cover letter can be used in different job application methods. Namingly:
Make it to PDF and upload to job application portal ( usually a webpage or Linkedin job post where you can input your details and upload relevant application doc).
Make it the base for your email application ( when you apply through cold email, and send directly to HR and hiring manager).
Make it the base for your video or presentation application ( when you have to apply through submitting a video or a presentation).
This is also why cover letter is still very important as a part of your job application. A well written cover letter provides you a solid base for your application regardless what the required format is and what approach you choose to apply.
Still unsure where to start?
To write a great cover letter requires a great sense of self-awareness and clarity on what you want to achieve for your next career move. To get that self-awareness and clarity, often time you need someone's help and feedback. If you feel that's the case, I can help.
Click HERE to schedule a free conversation, and let's discover your anspiration and let me help you to level up your career growth.