Do people even read cover letters these days? Can’t they get what they need from my resume? What do I put in my cover letter anyway? These are the typical questions I get asked a lot from job applicants with multiple backgrounds. And these days, when competition for jobs is extra fierce, people are wondering if cover letters would even add an extra burden of reading to already overwhelmed recruiters.
First off all, your cover letter will not be an extra burden. They have a choice whether they want to read it or not. Some people will read it, some will not – it really depends on many factors, including how well you write it. Including a cover letter will not make you lose credibility unless, of course, it is poorly written and/or has a lot of typos in it. However, if you don’t include it, you may lose out on your chance to stand out and really impress them.
Here are some points to consider about cover letters.
Grab their attention from the start.
Too many employers receive cover letters that are practically identical. They all pretty much start the same way – “I’d like to apply for the (fill in the blank) position…” Most of them talk way too much about the candidate. No wonder people don’t read cover letters anymore. Many of them are boring and don’t add any value
But if you really take the time to learn more about the employer and demonstrate it in your cover letter, you will win. The key is to grab their attention from the very beginning, so they get an idea that your cover letter is different. If your letter is intriguing enough, they will be more likely to keep on reading.
Let them know you got them.
This is probably one of the biggest and most important points of even having a cover letter. It is one of the reasons why cover letters are often called “pain letters.” It is not because they are a pain to write, although that can also be true 😊. The point is that you get the employer’s pain points and why they are looking for people like you.
When they read your application materials, the typical question on their mind is not how good you are in general, although they do want you to be good at what you do. Their biggest question is what you can do for them. If you address that question from the beginning, you are on track.
Most people have a short attention span when it comes to reading documents and letters. When they see letters, messages or emails that are too long, they typically don’t read them. Besides, when they have tons of other applicants to review, they can get overwhelmed easily.
Once you have gotten their attention, keep your letter short and simple. Get to the point. Use short sentences when you can. Separate your paragraphs when they get more than 5 lines long – this makes them easier to read.
Do have a call to action at the end
Some cover letters I see simply end with “Thank you for your time and consideration,” assuming the hiring manager knows what to do and will contact you if they feel like it. They do. But it has been proven to be much more effective to invite them for an interview in your last paragraph of the cover letter. People respond to an invitation; it shows you are proactive and interested.
End with something like, “I would love to talk to you more about this opportunity, feel free to call me for an interview at [insert your phone number even if you think they already have it from your resume].” Then you can thank them for their time and consideration.
When most of our urgent needs are met, we may be ok for now. But if we don’t go after our ultimate dream, the one that involves personal growth, self-actualization and becoming our best version of self, we will continue to experience the nagging feeling that something is missing. At any point in your life you have a choice to take a chance and make that leap to keep pursuing your passion or continue to tolerate what you have. The choice is yours.
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