We all know that we should tailor our cover letter to each company, show our enthusiasm for the role, include real-life examples of our accomplishments, and double (or triple) check everything we write for spelling and grammar mistakes.
But what else are we missing as we’re going to craft this important piece of our application? And the question many of us are probably asking ourselves: Why aren’t we still landing jobs if we’re covering all our bases?
Well, maybe you’re not aware you need to also do these seven things (or, could use a reminder):
1. Make it Ridiculously Clear How You Can Help Them
Nothing stands out more in a cover letter than using it as an opportunity to align yourself with the company’s interests, both in the experience you offer and the ideas you have for specifically helping them grow and succeed. Paint a clear picture of how you can help them. You should never make them try to guess or figure out how to utilize your skills, because they won’t.
2. Write Less (But Better)
Unless you’re applying to be a creative writer, be as concise and efficient as possible. Most people will scan and filter cover letters by keywords, and HR professionals respect and value quality brevity. Remember, the goal of your cover letter is to get them to read the rest of your application (read: your resume). So, explain in just a few well-crafted sentences why you’re a great fit.
3. Find (and Include) the Easter Egg
When hiring, many companies put an ‘Easter egg’ in the job description—usually a keyword or value they’re specifically looking for. Any applicant who includes or references this special detail in their cover letter is more likely to move on to the interview stage. It helps identify the candidates who pay attention to details and it shows that they read the post and are actually interested in the opportunity, not just sending out generic applications to each job they see.
4. Vary Your Format
Some of the best cover letters I’ve seen have been the ones that were a little ‘out there.’—for example, two short, confidence-laden paragraphs combined with a bulleted list of what the employee would add to the company. These ones caught my eye not only because of the bullets (which were short and to-the-point) but because they were different from the rest. It helps to have a great resume, but an original approach to the cover letter works even better!
5. Include Your Contact Information
The first thing I want to do after reading an exceptional cover letter is contact the candidate. The good ones all include a cell phone number and email address so that an interview can easily be set up. The hiring process moves fast, and the easier you make it for a hiring manager to find you, the more likely they’ll do so.
6. Emphasize You’re Able to Pick Up New Skills Quickly
Candidates who can demonstrate they have a large capacity to learn and grow are the most valuable to a company of any size because they can easily shift to various positions—laterally or upwards—to adapt to how the market or organization may shift over time. Showing this upfront is a great way to separate yourself from other candidates.
7. Show That You’re Adaptable
Show an interest in working on and exploring a broad range of topics and tasks. I always look out for those folks because they’re some of the most adaptable, and often accomplish things you didn’t know needed doing. Someone who isn’t just willing, but is interested, in having a wide breadth of knowledge will see unexpected connections and help innovate.