During a job search, it may seem like it's all about your resume. There are books, articles and blogs all about creating the best resume or improving your existing one. However, the often-overlooked cover letter is an essential part of your overall candidate profile. A good cover letter helps your job application stand out in a sea of other applicants, so the same energy put into your resume should be put into your cover letter.
One of the best ways to make your cover letter more compelling is to showcase your knowledge of the company you're applying for. Do some thorough research of the company's websites, social media accounts and LinkedIn profile to get an idea of the company's overall demeanor. For instance, if the website is sleek, serious and professional, convey that tone in your letter; if the company has a playful or laid-back vibe, keep it casual in your letter. Include details about the company's recent achievements or major announcements or how the company has inspired you in some way. If you know people in the company, don't hesitate to mention their names in your letter. Candidates who take the time to highlight their knowledge of the company look much more invested, come across as having more potential for success within the organization and are more likely to have their job application make the short list.
Once you've grabbed the attention of your reader by dropping some knowledge about the company, connect that company's goals with your own skill set. Hiring managers want to know what you can offer to their organization, so don't be shy about selling yourself. Clearly state how hiring you will directly benefit them, and exactly what relevant experience you bring to the table.
Your cover letter should let your personality shine through. Your resume lists your professional experience, skills and specialties in a straightforward format, so don't just regurgitate that information onto the cover letter. The cover letter is your opportunity to expand upon your resume and convey your passion and eagerness to join the company. Include a little bit about your hobbies, interests and volunteer experience, and try to paint a picture of who you are as a person, not just a candidate. Hiring managers aren't only looking for someone with the right experience or skills; those things can be taught or acquired over time. A candidate who will fit into the company's overall personality is just as important, so be sure to let your personal characteristics shine.
A good cover letter is brief, eloquent and compelling. The cover letter can make or break your application, so it's important to take the time to put some thought and effort into it. Including company details, relevant skills and just a touch of your personality in your cover letter can open doors to your next big interview.
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