Many people struggle with their cover letters. It’s a formal written communication between you and a stranger, essentially asking them for something: a job – or at least the opportunity to meet and discuss being hired for a job.
That can be awkward. What do you say? How much do you write?
Six sentences. That’s enough. Your cover letter doesn’t need to be an autobiography, and it shouldn’t rehash everything that’s already in your resume. Neither should it be a text message.
The fact is, most HR professionals say that they don’t actually read cover letters anymore. They jump straight to the resume, and if it seems like a good fit, they short-list the candidate for a potential interview. If not, they move on.
However, if the hiring professional does want to read candidate cover letters, you would hurt your chances by not sending one. So, you need to write a cover letter, but you don’t need to stress over it.
Write these six sentences:
Introduction (One sentence)
Introduce yourself and express your interest in the specific job that you are applying for.
I am a marketing and advertising professional with nearly ten years experience building awareness for some of the Internet’s most well-known brands, and I would like to submit my candidacy for the Marketing Manager position you’re currently hiring for at Acme Co.
Career description (Two sentences)
You’ve referenced your career path in your introduction. Now, add a sentence or two highlighting the top assets from your work or education that would make you a stand-out candidate.
In my career, I have led the content and editorial strategies for many of the country’s top websites including the ABC Portal, News-Site.com, and Example.ca. I am happy to provide samples of my work and specific achievements, above and beyond the details you’ll find in my resume, at any time.
Company fit (One-two sentences)
Write a sentence about why you want to work for the company. Hiring professionals prefer candidates who are interested in joining their company specifically, rather than who is just trying to get hired for any job they can find.
I was excited to see this position advertised on your website, because I am a big fan of your company’s brand and products, and I would love the opportunity to contribute my skills to your team’s success.
Conclusion (One-two sentences)
Finish your resume by expressing your interest in being interviewed for the role and thanking the employer for their time and consideration.
Please take a look at my resume and let me know if you would like to set up a time to discuss my potential fit for the Marketing Manager position. Thanks very much for your time.
That is the standard cover letter content. It introduces you and your key credentials, expresses your interest in the company and the role, and politely requests the next step in the hiring process.
In certain cases, you might require an extra paragraph or two. For example, if you are making a career transition to a new field, you may need to point out how your past work accomplishments can be beneficial to the job in the new sector.
Just remember to do that in your resume as well. If only your cover letter explains your fit for the role, while your resume highlights a career in a different field, you might not be considered a viable candidate. Because, as I mentioned, there’s a good chance the cover letter won’t be read.
So, write a custom cover letter for every job you apply for. It’s just a few sentences that can make a big difference to your candidacy. But be sure to take the time to customize your resume as well.