People have a love-hate relationship with cover letters. Most hate writing them. When it comes to hiring managers, some love them and some loathe them. In my experience, cover letters get read about half the time when they are not required and 100% of the time when they are.
So it’s definitely important to spend time writing a cover letter that stands out and gets you noticed.
Even if you’re not asked to write a cover letter, it can’t hurt – and it might be the deciding factor if other candidates didn’t send one.
So this article will walk you through the 3 key parts to a cover letter that stands out and gets you noticed.
A stand-out cover letter contains three essential sections, designed to show the reader you’re ideally suited for the role.
Use the cover letter to show the reader that you understand the company’s challenges, struggles, etc., and how you are the perfect candidate to solve these issues. In other words, show them that you understand the pain and make it better.
Pain takes many shapes and forms, from seamless project execution in order to not disrupt business, to building or growing a team to capture market share, launching a new product or service to elevate the brand, to saving money by introducing process efficiencies and automation.
Once you’ve effectively shown the reader you understand the challenge or the pain, the next step is to convince them that you are the person who can mitigate it.
This should NOT be accomplished by describing yourself with adjectives, but by sharing career highlights that quickly show how you’ve solved similar problems in past roles. You need to give them real accomplishments, and the more detail, the better. Give facts, statistics, numbers, and results. This is really important when you get to the interview too, so don’t forget this.
Part 3 of a cover letter should recap your skills and how they can contribute to not just solving pain, but to moving forward to achieve a company’s higher mission, vision or goal.
You’ll need to research the company a bit to do this effectively but it’s worth the time.
Be sure to close your cover letter by thanking them for their consideration – and offer to touch base shortly to follow up.
Generally speaking, e-notes took the place of cover letters back when it became possible to share their resumes online or via e-mail.
I recommend job seekers cover all their bases by sending out notes via good old fashioned snail mail as well as electronically. However, while e-notes and cover letters share the same basic parts, some pieces have changed or must appear in a different location.
So let’s walk through what to do if you want to write your cover letter for an electronic format.
Unlike a cover letter where your contact details must appear at the top, on an e-note this info should be located below your name in the form of an e-mail signature. Make sure at the very least you include your full name, contact number, email, address and a LinkedIn URL.
Reference Lines telling the reader the role you are targeting appear below the “Dear Hiring Manager” line. However, in an e-note this information must appear in the subject matter line to begin the email.
Reading online is a whole different ballgame than print reading. In fact, it is much harder. This is in large part due to the fact that our eyes have a tough time digesting dense blocks of text (large paragraphs, long lists of bullets) on a screen.
To ensure smooth online reading of your e-note, aim for paragraphs that are two to three lines maximum.
Keep this in mind on when you format your resume too, if you expect it to be read in an online format.
About this guest author:
In need of some career advice, a refreshed resume or rebranded LinkedIn? As the founder and chief writer at Virginia Franco Resumes, I offer customized executive resume and LinkedIn profile writing services for the 21st century job seeker. I would be happy to chat!