When COVID-19 spread through the U.S., our economy subsequently took an unprecedented downturn. Nonessential businesses closed, concerns for health and financial security thwarted normal consumer spending, and the demand for numerous services and products declined. The outcome? An unemployment rate upwards of 14.7% in April 2020 – higher than any rate within the last 70 years.
As job opportunities begin to make a comeback, we see the unemployment rate slowly and steadily decline. This is hopeful news for the economy and for job prospects, but it’s not to say that job seekers will have an easy time. In fact, the U.S. labor recovery will need assistance to get back to the peak employment we saw at the beginning of the century. This would entail the creation of roughly 30 million jobs, according to Deutsche Bank’s chief economist, Torsten Slok.
The competition for work is fierce, and job seekers need to do all they can – more so than ever – to set themselves apart from the rest and land a position. Our tip? While you’re sprucing up your resume, consider crafting a genuine and powerful cover letter to exemplify your personality, passion, and work ethic.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a document, typically one-page long, that’s sent along with your resume during the job application process. The purpose of a cover letter is to market yourself, beyond the confines of a standard resume. If crafted well, your personality will shine through, as well as the reasons why you are uniquely qualified for the position.
Why Do You Need a Cover Letter?
Unlike a resume that lists key details of your experience and skill set, a cover letter gets at the core of who you are as an individual and what you can bring to the table. Whereas your resume offers a two-dimensional view of your skills, which are likely similar to other applicants, the cover letter allows you to display other dimensions of your personality, knowledge, and talents. Hiring managers can use your cover letter to gauge your character, your communication skills, your interest in the role, and even your attention to detail.
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter
Crafting a cover letter is a challenge for most people. That’s why we have a few tips to share – ranging from style to formatting – that will help you create a strong personal statement.
Stick to one page. Some people are uncomfortable writing about themselves, capping off at just a few sentences. Others drone on forever. Keeping your cover letter to a concise one-page document will ensure you’ve said enough, but not too much.
Use paragraphs. Visually, your cover letter should not overwhelm the viewer. One way to do this is by using clearly defined and easily digestible paragraphs. Refrain from writing one long page with no breaks.
Write genuinely. The purpose of a cover letter is to give the hiring manager a glimpse into your personality. As tempting as it may be to boast about your accomplishments, commit to staying humble, and to writing authentically so your true colors shine through.
Maintain consistency. Use the same size and style font on your cover letter as you do on your resume. If the font sizing needs to be different, aim to stay within one to two font sizes from that of your resume.
Write with intention. It’s a good idea to let a sliver of creativity loose when writing your cover letter but refrain from writing fluff. Ditch the lofty writing and choose your words thoughtfully. Write clearly, concisely, and with intention.
Use keywords. Job descriptions are filled with keywords. Utilize these words or phrases throughout your cover letter and in your resume, too. Typically, larger corporations with high applicant volume use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to vet resumes. In this case, it’s especially important to use keywords to ensure your resume makes it through the preliminary sourcing stage.
Customize for each position. One of the most time-consuming aspects of writing a successful cover letter is tailoring it to each position. Specifically address the role, company, and hiring manager in each cover letter you create. It’s well worth the work!
Proofread. There is nothing more embarrassing than submitting a cover letter that includes errors or typos. Such mistakes can easily disqualify you from the interview process. Proofread your work and then ask a friend or colleague to double-check it.
The Six Components of a Cover Letter
There are many components to crafting a compelling cover letter. Take a look at the steps below.
Header. The header of your cover letter should be situated at the top corner of your page and contain your contact information, including:
- Your Name as you’re professionally addressed.
- Your Address, or at minimum, your city. For consistency, the address provided on your resume and cover letter should match.
- Your Phone Number. Keep the formatting of your phone number clean. Use parenthesis around the area code or drop them all together for a more streamlined look.
- Your Email Address
- Optional: Website Links. We live in a digital world where everyone is connected digitally. Include your LinkedIn URL to spotlight your network of professional connections or additional experience that may not be listed on your resume. Creatives may opt to include a link to their Instagram account or their website URL to showcase their work. Only include links to profiles that are professional in nature.
Salutation. Address each cover letter directly to the hiring manager of the company to which you’re applying. This creates an immediate connection and shows that you care. Here’s how to find the name of a hiring manager:
- Scope out the company’s website. Often, companies will have a website page dedicated to their team, or at minimum, their management team.
- Pay attention to the email address. If your application process consists of emailing your resume and cover letter, pay attention to the name in the email address. Companies may have a generic “HR” address, but others will go directly to an individual.
- Search LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great place to find out a hiring manager’s name, as most people on LinkedIn list their position and company. With digital recruitment on the rise, hiring managers typically share their professional information.
If you’re unable to find the hiring manager’s name, tailor the cover letter to the company as well as you can. Try, “Dear Hiring Manager at [Company Name]”
- Paragraph 1: Application Intent. Kick start your cover letter by first focusing on the position for which you’re applying. Include a sentence or two about your enthusiasm for the role and the company. Be specific and address the position, department, and company by name.
- Paragraphs 2-3: Experience. Dedicate the next paragraph(s) to sharing your background as it pertains directly to this position. Use one or two concrete examples from your previous experience and explain why that makes you equipped for this role. If possible, address key performance indicators (KPI’s) or metrics to demonstrate your success.
- Exemplify your soft skills. Companies love to see stats. They want to see performance metrics that demonstrate your success but don’t downplay the importance of soft skills. Soft skills are non-technical, like interpersonal skills, adaptability, positive attitude, and accountability, to name a few. These skills are critical to successfully working in a team setting, and they go a long way. Managers can teach technical skills, but it’s much harder to teach soft skills. Be sure to allude to them in your cover letter.
- Organize it. Consider separating each of your specific examples into paragraphs of their own – one paragraph could be used to demonstrate your metrics and goal-oriented successes, and the other, used to exemplify your soft skills.
- Closing Paragraph: Wrap up your cover letter with a recap. Restate your reasons for applying for this position, and how you’d be an extraordinary addition to the team. State that you look forward to hearing from them and learning more about this job opportunity.
- Signature. Close your cover letter and sign off with sincerity!
Writing a cover letter, although a time-consuming task, is a surefire way to showcase your personality, creativity, and communication skills. It presents an opportunity for you to stand out from the competition. Submitting a compelling cover letter may very well be the reason a hiring manager advances you to the next round in the recruitment process.
As a job seeker, working with a staffing agency is an efficient and effective way to find open positions. If you’d like to learn more about working with FrankCrum Staffing, click here. Good luck with your job hunt!