“44% of college grads in their 20s are stuck in low-wage, dead-end jobs, the highest rate in decades, and the number of young people making less than $25,000 has also spiked to the highest level since the 1990s,” (Forbes). Outdated job hunting practices namely, poor Resume and Cover Letter Writing are major contributing factors to the dilemma facing job seekers today.
Millennial Cover Letters tend to be a generic (and boring) regurgitation of their resumes presented in a way that’s difficult to read quickly by recruiters who’re notoriously short on time. The solution is to write a highly customized, easily skimmable letter that creates an immediate positive impression. Below I’ve included the strategies (with samples) I used along with my Resume Writing Hacks to get an interview invitation within 24 hours of submitting my Cover Letter.
Customize Your Letter for the JOB and for the COMPANY
Hiring Mangers are looking for a candidate that can perform the job description who also fits within the company culture. Your Cover letter must communicate not only that you’ll excel at the role but that you mesh well with the company’s values.
- Put the company name & address at the top of your letter. You want to immediately create the impression this letter was written specifically for this company, not that it’s 1 of 100 letters you sent out.
- Mention the job title and the job requisition number (if you can find it) of the position you’re applying for in the first few sentences of your letter.
- Place the company logo within the header of your letter (copy and paste from Google). This adds color in your letter (which has been shown to increase engagement), demonstrates your interest and separates you from all the generic black and white letters.
- Mention what you like about the company specifically, this requires that you actually do some research (but you knew that already of course) and pick out something you’re authentically interested in.
” I’m very passionate about community outreach in fact, it was your mentorship program that got me interested in your company in the first place.”
- Let your professional personality shine through. Be mindful to emphasize the elements of your personality that align well with the company and are work appropriate. Also note that what’s appropriate depends on the company culture (do your research!). Here’s a great and brief personality test to give you some wording to describe yourself professionally.
“I’d describe myself as a dynamic self-starter who loves confronting exciting new challenges.”
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the field and that you understand the job description by using industry terminology, wording from the job posting and by making a subtle statement about the overall industry.
“I’m extremely passionate about the Start Up culture and their willingness (and necessity) to leverage optimal solutions unlike their larger counterparts who can afford to waste resources.
- Reframe your weaknesses into strengths. We all have professional weakness, lack of experience, work gaps or unfamiliarity with certain systems. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, instead of hoping recruiters don’t notice your weakness, address it first and give an explanation or a plan on how you’re going to compensate.
“Though I am relatively unfamiliar with SQL I am fairly apt with the VBA programming language and am confident I can pick up SQL quickly.”
- Adding your signature to your Cover Letter has the power to demonstrate your sophistication and your willingness to go ‘above and beyond.’ Just write your signature on a blank sheet of paper, take a picture with your phone and send it to your email, open it on a laptop and pop it into your letter (you might have to edit the image slightly to make sure it blends in well).
- Add a quote at the end of your Cover Letter that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for. Quote the CEO, a famous person from your industry or a statement that reflects the company’s values (that pesky research again!).
I offer a discount every time you refer a friend to my Resume, Cover Letter or Linkedin Profile Writing Service. Just send them the link and tell them to put your email in the referral box.
Make Your Letter Easily Skimmable
The average human attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds, .75 seconds less than a Gold Fish. Consequently, you have mere seconds to stand out to a recruiter, it’s critical that your letter be written with this in mind.
- Keep the length short by limiting your letter to three concise paragraphs with a short closing statement at the very end.
- Font usage, spacing and color have been scientifically proven to positively impact readership so make sure your letter uses either Verdana, Arial or Times New Roman (10-12 pt), has space been your paragraphs and uses bolding strategically to call attention to important points.
- Replace overused cliches and phrases that make your letter sound like everybody else’s with Power Words instead.
- Avoid an arrogant (I know I’m the best candidate…), desperate (I really need this job…) or self absorbed (This job would help me…) tone. You want to create the impression that you believe you can do a great job but know you’re going to have to learn a lot on the job.
“I’m confident my experience and passion for this position would make me an ideal candidate and I’m excited about the prospect of learning from you.”
- For the love of God, DO NOT rewrite your Resume in Cover Letter form. When I write a Cover Letter I try to cover the following: my professional personality, my most relevant accomplishments, something interesting about me that’s relevant to the job, my excitement for the role/company, reframe my weaknesses and make a knowledgeable statement about the industry.
Cover Letter Sample 1: Key Take Away
My biggest weakness in this application was my unfamiliarity with SQL (a database management language). So I researched SQL and created an opening statement using the language; I also stated in my letter that I was confident I’d be able to learn it up quickly. This was a major key to getting an interview request so quickly.
Here’s some recruiter feedback on the above letter. I didn’t get this job btw (lol) more on the top reasons I haven’t gotten job offers later!
Cover Letter Sample 2: Key Take Away
Here’s a Cover Letter I wrote for a client. Notice the unique design elements; the logo, spacing, bolding and signature create a positive impression before even reading the letter.
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