Cover letters are the worst.
If you’re not comfortable tooting your own horn, writing a cover letter can be even worse than crafting a beautiful resume- telling your future employer why they should hire you is nerve wracking, uncomfortable, and generally goes against what we’re taught as children; stay humble.
When you’re writing a cover letter, you have to show your employer (often in just a few sentences) why they should pick you instead of someone equally capable or more so than you. You have to mine your talents and skills and promote them in the biggest, brightest light. And that is not only something we’re taught not to do, but concurrently something we’re legitimately not to taught to do at all!
I’ve included a sample of a beautiful, authentic cover letter, but I want to give you seven tips to creating your own beautiful authentic cover letter. There is also a free checklist in the Millennial Life Skills Vault. Employers will respond a lot better to something you’ve written yourself. Something that sounds like you. If it sounds like me (a professional resume guru) or worse, MS Word, they’re going to throw it in the trash pile before they get to “sincerely,”.
Some things to point out in this cover letter:
I used this cover letter to get my current day job. I’ve changed some of the information because the world is a small, small place.
But I want to highlight these things:
I did not say which job I was applying for. If you’re emailing it in, you can include it in your subject line. If it’s an application, they know because of how it’s filed.
Instead of saying “You should hire because x,y,z” I stated some of my accomplishments, and lessons I’ve learned. I stated my employment history, and while I didn’t necessarily clarify how it would transfer into my new (potential) job, I think it’s clear that having the experience is transferable. Hiring managers are totes profesh at this; you don’t need to draw them a map. You’ll also noticed how I addressed a gap in employment without it sounding like a big deal.
7 tips for you create a beautiful authentic cover letter:
One: Find out the hiring manager’s name
Dear sir/madam or to whom it may concern, is basically unacceptable. It shows you have done the least amount of effort in researching this position, and company. Find the correct name. You can start at their website, or by calling and asking for the hiring manager.
Two: List your qualities beforehand
Before you start writing make a list of 10 things that you do well. If you have a hard time coming up with a list, ask your coworkers, or supervisor. If you’re uncomfortable, refer to your most recent performance review.
Once you have this list, it’ll help you clarify the tone and illustrate your best qualities without sounding like a pedantic asshole.
Three: Employers want to see value
Illustrate a scenario where you clearly added value to the end result. You can use the list from above to get the juices flowing. Keep the story short and succinct but meaningful.
Talk about a time, project, or other example where you showed leadership, and maybe what it meant to you do have that opportunity.
If you have done it before, you can do it again. Showing this to the employer allows them to kind of build a common issue and apply your tactics to it to see how you fit into company culture.
Five: Bring up the doubts and address them head on
If you feel like you lack enough education or experience for the position you’re applying for, bring it up and explain why it isn’t actually a problem. When you get ahead of the issue it shows that you’re taking ownership and responsibility. Sometimes we have gaps in employment or backgrounds that preclude us from meeting the minimum requirements. Use this opportunity to be creative about your other experience as a volunteer, in school, or how having your time off (or time in jail if that’s something you need to worry about) has helped you grow as a person.
Six: Ask for the interview and make sure you include your contact information
This is possibly one of the most awkward things to include, but you have to do it. No one wants to hire a passive employee. Passive doesn’t get the job done.
Seven: Proofread the stuffing out of it
Have someone else. Even as I was preparing my cover letter for you, I noticed a few errors. How embarrassing! I still got hired, but you should expect that if you even have a comma out of place, you won’t get hired.
You can build your cover letter in Word, which has several of totally free options for templates.