So many of my clients reach out to me after their job description has unexpectedly changed. Companies restructure, new management is hired, and change happens.
But where does that leave you?
If you’re finding that your expectations at work are no longer being met and you are starting to distrust the company you’re working for, it’s time to update that resume and start a targeted job search that lands you the job you want. You can discover a lot about a company before ever applying for a job by looking at that company’s website, Facebook or Instagram profiles, and by reading reviews on Glassdoor. Once you’ve found a few companies that you want to work for, the best way to ensure that you get an interview is to create a highly targeted resume and cover letter.
While your resume can’t exactly spell out your expectations of an employer, you can use a highly targeted cover letter that speaks to the needs of an employer to start a constructive dialogue and get your foot in the door of an interview. This guide will share how to write a cover letter that gets job interviews.
1 | Create A Copy Of Your Resume
When you create a cover letter from a copy of your resume, you contact heading and general formatting will automatically be copied to your new cover letter. This is a great trick to create a personal brand and keep it consistent across your career documents.
2 | Address The Letter To A Specific Person
If the job posting you are applying for doesn’t list a hiring manager or HR contact, you can do a little research to figure out who may be reviewing your resume first. You can use LinkedIn to search for the company and its employees. Some companies will list employee directories on their websites, too.
It’s important to address the letter to a specific person to humanize your cover letter. A generalized cover letter doesn’t add value to your application and is, frankly, a waste of time for both you to write and an employer to read.
3 | Start By Describing Yourself As The Solution
To make an impact with your cover letter, you need to use this letter to describe yourself as THE solution to the employer’s unique problem. What exactly is this problem? Well, it depends. Consider the company’s mission and the role of the position that you’re applying for.
What is the primary goal of the company?
What is the primary goal of the position you are applying for?
Your cover letter should start by indicating the job title you are interested in, why you’re interested in working for the company, and how you can meet the company’s goals in a short paragraph.
4 | Summarize Your Qualifications + Experience
Now that you’ve addressed that you’re THE solution to the employer’s problem, your cover letter needs to support this claim by summarizing your qualifications and related experience. You can achieve this is a short, concise paragraph.
When you analyze the job posting, you should identify the top 6-8 qualifications and skills within the Qualifications or Requirements sections. These should be adequately highlighted in your resume with examples from your work history, but it’s important to use your cover letter to draw attention to the most significant qualifications and skills up-front.
5 | Showcase Your Achievements
In a three or four-lined bullet list, you should showcase your top achievements that relate to the qualifications and skills you are introducing in your cover letter. These should be results-oriented statements that should indicate how you saved the company money, increased profits, improved a process or a customer experience, or helped the company achieve its goals.
When this section proves too challenging or you just don’t have anything worth bragging about, create goal-oriented statements (similar to results-oriented statements without the claims) that describe what you will aim to do using the qualifications and skill sets this position is requiring.
6 | Include A Few Transferable Skills
Transferable skills, also known as soft skills, should be integrated into your cover letter more so than in your resume. These are communication skills, teamwork, thriving in a fast-paced environment, and so on. These are skills that will set you apart from others with the same qualifications or years of related experience.
Don’t go overboard with adding these statements to your resume, though. These are hard claims to justify with solid, specific examples from your work history and can be considered “fluff” on both a resume or cover letter. Add a couple statements in a brief paragraph after your qualifications and achievements.
7 | Anticipate An Interview
Finally, you should indicate that you’re interested in an interview. It’s more impactful to anticipate an interview in your close rather than to ask for an interview, which can look something like this:
“I look forward to discussing your company’s needs in greater detail in an interview.”
When sending a letter of interest with your resume, which is similar to a cover letter but focuses more on asking if you would be a good fit for any open positions, indicating which job functions you are most interested in and how you prefer to be contacted would be more appropriate.
8 | Edit + Add Keywords From The Job Posting
Before sending your cover letter off with your resume for consideration, take another look at the job posting to make sure you are using terminology that mirrors the terminology used in the cover letter. This is a great way to add additional keywords to your application package and reiterate that you are a great fit.
While cover letters are rarely scanned by Applicant Tracking software, using keywords to draw attention to your qualifications and skills will make it easier for a reader to connect the dots. Try to think like a hiring manager!
9 | Proofread For Readability
Don’t even consider applying with your cover letter without proofreading it for readability. What does that mean exactly? You should be able to read your resume and sound professional and approachable. This means your cover letter should not make you sound like a robot. This can easily happen when you’re mirroring the terminology in a job posting or focusing on adding keywords.
Sometimes a little wordsmithing can go a long way. Your cover letter should humanize your application package while still maintaining a consistent message.
10 | Create An e-Cover Version
I strongly suggest reformatting your cover letters to e-covers when you’re not uploading it as a separate document. E-covers have the standard letter formatting removed and require reworking your contact heading into an email signature with appropriate contact information. These are great for copying-and-pasting into form fields when applying online but not uploading your cover letter, when emailing your resume (Your cover letter should be the body of your email, not an attachment!), or when contacting employers on LinkedIn in a private message.
To create an e-cover quickly, create a copy of your cover letter. Select all of the content and click the Clear Formatting button. Move your contact heading into your email signature, delete the company address, and presto! This non-formatted version of your cover letter should be saved and sent when needed with your resume.
Start writing highly targeted cover letters and practicing your interview skills!