Tips from an Experienced Interviewer.
From my experience interviewing people over the past 25 years, I’ve learned that applicants face stiff competition, often with only a handful of people who get called in for an interview after my team was crushed with resumes from a job post.
If you want to stand out, then it’s essential to include a cover letter, and you have to make sure it has purpose. It’s important to understand that your cover letter is an opportunity, not a green light to simply your chance to list all of your accomplishments. The goal is to share some highlights that paint a picture of you being the ideal candidate in the eyes of whoever is reading it. Your cover letter is a chance to make your first impression count and it will help you stand out, if you do it right.
First, avoid rambling about yourself and all the things you’ve done in the past, especially all the big numbers that nobody believes you can do for them anyway. Instead, focus on providing the hiring manager with what they need to see in order to select you for an interview. The key is connecting your skills and previous responsibilities to what they have listed in the job description so they can see that you have exactly what they’re looking for.
Regardless of your work history or experience, keep it simple. Start by mentioning how you heard about the job and why you’re excited about the role. Be clear, concise, and direct and make sure every word serves a purpose. If you have extra words or sentences that don’t add value, kill it. Less is more.
Make sure it’s easy to read. Hiring managers and recruiters see hundreds of resumes and they scan the document looking for key points, so be sure to use bullets and short paragraphs.
Your Cover Letter Shouldn’t Repeat Your Resume
Instead, it should highlight aspects your resume doesn’t cover.
Rather than just listing your accomplishments, connect everything in your cover letter to why they should care. They posted a job description for a reason, so you’re goal is to get them to visualize you being the ideal candidate by linking whatever you share to what they specifically need. It’s not rocket science, just put yourself in their shoes and don’t share things that aren’t relevant.
One of the biggest mistakes made is when someone writes or talks in during the interview process about everything they’ve done in the past. Meanwhile, the hiring mangers have already checked out -because they only care and are thinking about one thing, themselves. They just want to find the right person for the job. Period. They are busy, the comapny is losing money when they have empty seats, and they have much more productive things they could be doing rather than fishing through resumes.
Understand that you have to be able to articulate how and why you can over-deliver what they need for the role. Most people would be shocked if they knew just how desperate some employers are to fill empty seats in their office.
Essential Tips for Crafting an Effective Cover Letter and Enhancing Your Job Application
Take the time to research the company to find out what they’re all about. Look for any press releases online, marketing assets, awards, employee reviews, etc. Finding something distinct about the company not only helps you craft a great cover letter, but it also helps you determine if the company is a good fit for you.
No Experience? No Problem.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the exact skills or experience they’re looking for. Use your cover letter to highlight relevant skills from your life experiences, whether they’re from home, school, or your previous jobs in different roles or industries. Be honest, and provide compelling reasons why you should be considered for the position.
Last, avoid using AI tools for a final version of your cover letter. While they can help create a nice first draft saving you a lot of time, they can also make your cover letter feel impersonal. Be sure you edit the cover letter and make it sound as authentic and genuine as possible.
If you want to leave a lasting memorable impression, add a P.S. to your cover letter. Mention something unique that you found while researching the company. Maybe it’s about the person you’re interviewing with or the founder of the company. It could even be something distinct about the company’s culture that resonated with you. As long as you connect it to why it made you more excited about the opportunity is all that matters. That will help you stand out and look distinctly different from the other candidates, at least on paper.