Reminders We All Need When We’re Writing a Cover Letter

First of all, if you’re actually writing a cover letter to go alongside your resume, you’re going above and beyond most other job applicants because now days finding a job is hard. Second, I made this cover letter writing tips list the other night when I was awake at four o’clock in the morning because isn’t that what everybody does at four o’clock in the morning? Makes lists?

Damn, how I envy people who sleep until their alarm goes off.

So, champ, here are some things that I’m thinking we could really use some reminders on – because no one can actually write an amazing cover letter without incorporating these cover letter strategies.

1. Find a direct contact to email your cover letter to

What’s the best way to ensure your cover letter gets read? Address it to a specific person. Invest the time researching who the hiring manager is so you can tailor your letter not only to the company – but also to the person. All of us know when we receive a letter that is being sent to everyone without any personalization. And trrrrust me, those letters don’t compel anyone to say, “This looks like an interesting candidate, let’s schedule an interview with her.”

To find out who the hiring manager is, you could search on Senior LinkedIn for “[company name] [director] [ department].”

2. Don’t start off with “I’m writing to apply for XYZ position”

We’ve been sooooo conditioned to start off with this kind of watching paint dry intro that is neither creative nor compelling. Your intro should be memorable and thoughtful. Draw the reader into a story by sharing what about him, her, or the organization you find captivating. For example, one time I found an article featuring the interviewer at a company I was meeting with and I referenced that story in my cover letter intro:

Sample Cover Letter Intro

Dear Mr. Smith, (swapped in a fake name here of course)

After reading your interview on [name of publication], it sounds like there is a big challenge (and opportunity) to tie digital marketing efforts to actual doctor’s office visits. I wonder if you’ve already tried to see if there is a correlation between unique visitors to the website and office visits. I’m also curious to learn if you’ve tried moving the ‘Find a Doctor’ and ‘Schedule an Appointment’ icons above the fold to see if that has improved conversion rates.

BOOM!

Not THAT, my friends, is a great cover letter intro that results in getting an interview.

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3. Explain what you’ll deliver

The meat and potatoes of your cover letter should explain what value you can deliver for the company. Using three or four bullet points within the letter, you can spell out the outcomes you can deliver that will solve some of the company’s challenges. I like heading into this section with a line that Jenny Foss, founder of JobJenny.com, recommends: “What specifically, could I bring to [name of company] in this role?”

Then I bold the intro of each bullet point that contains the key phrases and keywords the employer is looking for (based on the job description) as you can see in this example:

Hands-on experience managing extensive digital marketingprogramsin conjunction with SEM specialists, content strategist, graphic designers, web developers and third-party vendors. At [former company], I oversaw a $1M annual digital blah, blah, blah….

Implement strategies to build awareness, drive engagement, and improve retention.At [former company], I developed content, ad copy and creative that resonated with potential customers such as blah, blah, blah…..

Employ a data-driven approach tracking all digital marketing campaignsand assessing against goals (ROI and KPIs).At [former company] I consistently tracked conversion rates, blah, blah, blah….

4. Send your cover letter as a PDF

I got this tip from entrepreneur Seth Porges– send your cover letter as a pdf. Why? Because virtually everyone can open a PDF file without any conversion whereas not every computer can read a .docx file. And file conversions are bad since they can result in formatting err ors.

5. Choose a Font that is Easy to Read

Think about it, hiring managers have to review dozens – if not hundreds – of resumes and cover letters. If your resume or cover letter isn’t instantly readable, chances are they will pass over it. Career expert Alison Doyle wrote a great piece on how to choose the right font and size for a cover letter. Me personally, I like using font Helvetic size 13. Random tidbit – Helvetica has been featured by MOMA and has received a number of awards. There’s even a documentary and a few books about this font. Go Helvetica!

6. Follow Up

Last but definitely not least, following up with hiring managers and recruiters is probably the most important job search strategy you can take. We all lead busy lives and cannot always remember to respond to all the emails we receive. If you haven’t received a response to your cover letter in 24-48 hours, following up with the hiring manager lets them know you are very interested in the position and reminds them that they need to hurry up and interview you before someone else does. As the old saying goes, “The fortune is in the follow-up.”

by Eric Melchor