Résumés and LinkedIn profiles may get the lion’s share of attention, but a good cover letter can go a long way toward impressing hiring decision-makers. One survey by ResumeLab found that 83% of respondents claimed that a great cover letter can land an interview even if your résumé isn’t good enough.
“When you write a cover letter, the goal is to connect and find a common link,” résumé writer and expert Angela Aylward told Fast Company. “A résumé is an overview of your job history and skills, while the cover letter brings in your personality.”
But what makes a good cover letter? Part of it is length. According to another ResumeLab survey, 82% of experts reported that the ideal cover letter length is about a single page, and while others said less than half a page is preferred.
This checklist will help you write a letter that’s short, sweet, and attention grabbing.
WRITE WITH THE JOB DESCRIPTION IN MIND
Your cover letter, like your résumé, should be tailored to the job description rather than falling into the trap of pitching to the company in general. As Dan Geiger, Buzzfeed’s former senior manager of people operations, previously told Fast Company, a lot of entry-level hires spent their time sharing their thoughts about how great Buzzfeed is. According to Geiger, it’s better to show your enthusiasm “for the specifics of the role,” rather than the organization. After all, if you just wrote your cover letter with the company in mind, you’re making the recruiter and hiring manager do all the work. By tailoring your pitch to the role, can sell yourself more effectively.
GET THE TONE RIGHT
Branding and content consultant Sara McCord, formerly with career platform The Muse, once held a position where she reviewed résumés and cover letters for roughly 60 positions per year. With that kind of volume, good cover letters stand out. She found that one of the things she looked for in her initial read-throughs was the tone.