As a candidate in the marketplace, chances are you’ve seen or applied to job postings that require a cover letter along with your resume and other pertinent information. Or maybe you are just trying to figure out the best way to stand out from the crowd when applying to positions.
What you might not realize is that the traditional cover letter is changing a lot – and it’s still important. And while you may have even written a cover letter (or ten), chances are you, like many other candidates, have missed one or more of the most crucial parts of a standout cover letter.
But before we get into the top three elements you should include in your cover letters, the first thing you need to recognize about 21st-century job listings is they won’t always be formal. And the growth of “Apply with LinkedIn” or Facebook postings means that you may have to get creative with when and where you include cover letter details.
For example, if you apply for a position through a platform like LinkedIn, there is usually a section for “comments.” That is the space where you must introduce yourself and include elements of your cover letter if the posting didn’t include a place to attach one.
Never, ever send your resume without an introduction. It doesn’t matter how polished the content in it is, if you don’t take the time to set the stage, your resume will be overlooked.
Now that we’ve got the disclaimers out of the way, we can jump into exploring the three crucial things you need to include in your cover letters.
The Top Three Things EVERY Cover Letter Should Include
#1 How Your Unique Experiences & Expertise Apply
It doesn’t matter if it seems crystal clear to you how your past positions have made you into the ideal candidate for an open position, you need to connect the dots for the reader. Even if you’ve had the same position with another company, think: What kind of progress and outcomes might they expect as a result of your experiences?
If you can clearly and succinctly make a case for why you’re the most qualified and well-prepared candidate in their sights, you will have a much better chance of getting an interview.
#2 Hard Numbers
It’s not enough to narrate your previous duties that make you a good fit for the position. You need to (humbly) brag a little bit. Including hard numbers in your cover letter is like creating spark notes for your resume.
What are the most impressive (and applicable) achievements in your career to date?
Did you increase your territory revenue by 30% month over month for a year? Were you able to streamline accounting processes to improve efficiency by 10%? These are the things future employers will want to know about you and what you’re going to bring to the table when you come on board.
#3 A Personal Touch
Throughout any cover letter, you should sprinkle a bit of your personal touch. Ideally, you’re going to weave a dialogue for the recruiter that allows them to get to know you a little and, hopefully, even begin to like you. One powerful technique for accomplishing this is to tell a part of your story.
What has happened to you in your life or career that set you on the path to becoming a rock star candidate?
If you’re applying to be an analyst; have you loved tackling complex calculations since college and known since then that you’d dedicate your life to helping companies unravel their greatest financial challenges? If you’re looking to lead an agricultural company’s development unit; did you grow up on a working farm and realize you have a natural talent for agriculture and land management?
Let the recruiter have a peek behind the curtain so they can see why you’re not only a qualified candidate but also the best person for the job. In the end, people still hire people they like, so be enthusiastic and friendly!