Many misconceptions exist about needing a cover letter when applying for a job. In this article, I will teach you how to write a killer cover letter and eliminate all the myths and misconceptions. You will learn how to write a cover letter to help you stand out from the crowd, take attention away from your age, and focus on what you bring to the table.
You may even ask yourself if a cover letter is needed or if writing one is a waste of time. Most people think a cover letter is just about themselves; this is not the case.
A cover letter, especially when required in the job ad, is a necessary first-step test to see if you are paying attention to details – and failing to attach one will most likely get your resume and application discarded, eliminating you from contention even before your resume is read.
Here are the steps on how to write a killer cover letter:
- Closely analyze the job description (identify the needs of the role)
- Identify what to include in your cover letter and what not to include
- Identify how your value proposition is going to help answer the need
- Why do you want to work in this organization?
- Writing the cover letter
Many highly qualified candidates fail to see that a cover letter is a marketing tool. In most cases, it is the first document that a recruiter or hiring manager will see, and it is a great way to not only showcase your writing ability but to show that you’re serious about the opportunity and allows you to highlight your strengths and make up for what a resume can’t show alone.
Analyze The Job Description, Identify The Needs Of The Role
Always write a unique cover letter geared to the position you are applying for.
It’s always better to apply to just five relevant positions with a complementing cover letter than to fifty jobs without any background research or specific details addressed in the job description.
It is always best to start by analyzing the job description.
A job description is composed of two parts:
- What you’ll do
- What the company is looking for (i.e., qualifications)
First, focus on the “what you’ll do” portion. The first few bullets are the most important. You need to ensure that they are addressed in the cover letter. Start highlighting the ones you have experience carrying out.
Wi down the ones you are most comfortable with and ignore any you are comfortable doing. Also, you will want to highlight your ‘preferred’ or your ‘nice-to-have’ items listed in the job posting if you satisfy those.
Ensure you note all the skills you’ve highlighted in the job description.
We’re now ready to move on to the next step.
What To Include in Your Cover Letter, And What Not to Include
Open a Word document on your PC and build a table with two columns. In the left-hand column, write the skills you identified in the above section.
Then in the right-hand column, write down how your skills, background, and experience match the job description requirements they are advertising for.
Below is an example: use as many of the exact words as the job description:
All you need to do is list the qualifications without any regard for style – you don’t need qualifications for all the requirements since we will only use the top two anyway.
VERY IMPORTANT – speak the employer’s language. If a job description mentions “QuickBooks Pro,” don’t just say you’ve used “accounting software” be very specific. Since the job poster listed a specific detailed requirement, chances are very high. THAT is what they are specifically looking for in any candidate.
Identify How Your Value Proposition Will Help Their Needs
Your value proposition highlights what makes YOU more attractive or appealing to the hiring manager or recruiter and why they should call you for an interview or hire you – it shows how you are different from other candidates and the value you bring.
A robust and well-written value proposition can significantly strengthen your brand. A personal value proposition helps to set you apart from your competitors.
Do not make the mistake and underestimate the importance of your value proposition.
It helps companies and recruiters better understand your unique skills, knowledge, or experience – all of which are the building blocks of your value, helping position you as an asset.
Why Do You Want to Work in This Organization?
Okay, so it is clear that you’re an excellent fit for the role.
Now you have to explain to them why you want to work there and how the organization meets your ideal situation and career goal.
Realize that this is just a research-based question.
If you have done your research, you will find information about the company that you can link to your interests and goals.
Look on the organization’s website for interviews their founders or executives have done or a new product or service rollout. Look at the company’s blog posts.
Also, if you’ve uncovered a pain point that this role will be tasked to solve, explain to them how you fit the need and can solve the problem.
You do NOT need to go into a great deal (you only want to provide enough information to show authority while not giving away all the ingredients for succeeding.
Writing The Cover Letter
We’re going to use the following format for your cover letter:
- Who you are, what you want, and what you believe in
- Skill & Qualification Match
- Why do you want to work there?
Who you are, what you want, and what you believe in
Use the first two or three sentences to make some statements about who you are, what you want, what you believe in, and the position you are applying for (if there is a position or job number – include it). Emphasize your strengths and mention something specific to the company and the role you are applying for.
In the transition, it is best to link the intro of the cover letter to the first skill-qualification match and give it a little insight as to why it is a match. The first part summarizes what you will bring to the company, which helps it flow into the experiences you’re illustrating.
Over the last two years, I implemented new channels of distribution, which directly increased the company’s revenue by over $2 million by developing a variety of web-based applications that allowed the company to open new markets in Europe.
I’m excited to continue my journey by contributing and growing at XYZ Corporation. Three things mak me the perfect fit for this position: (list out the things we identified above and try to avoid any filler statements.).
Skill & Qualification Match
Look at your table matching your qualifications to the job requirements, and pick the two or three most important ones, ones that DIRECTLY speak to the needs of the role. Then use that to transform your boring bullet points into exciting sentences.
Here are some common interview story themes:
- Lead the team
- Taking initiative
- Dealing with failure
- Managing conflict
- Driven by curiosity
I conducted Feature-Mapping and Requirements Gathering sessions with prospective and existing clients to formulate the Scope and Design of the new web application. I led the team that was responsible for managing the development, training, and acceptance criteria for all managed project phases. We were also responsible for dealing with failure to meet deadlines and was also tasked with managing conflict with user acceptance.
Why do you want to work there?
Pick two favorite aspects about the company you already found when doing your research. I like to pick one value-driven one and one industry or current topic related. If you use their product, though, that should be first on your list.
Now that you’ve got two reasons, it’s time to craft together a simple paragraph that weaves them together.
I’ve been following [COMPANY] for a couple of months now, an,d I resonate with the company’s values and general direction. The [Insert Value] stands out to me b [Insert Reason]. I also recently read that [Insert topical reason] and this app,eals to me because [Why it appeals to you].
Realize that this part is your chance to bring out what you like about the company, and if you can’t think of anything, maybe you need to rethink why you’re actually applying. You should be excited by this opportunity, and you need to let this shine through!
State what you want and why you want it.
As you will note on the enclosed resume, the breadth of my expertise covers a wide range of (XYZ list the scope of your background and experience) responsibilities. I am a hardworking, ambitious leader and motivator and have become adept in overseeing dutiesvarious operational and fiduciary responsibilities ensuring growth, profit maximization, and optimal financial performance.
I am confident that I would become a valuable addition to your organization, and I feel strongly that my skills and experience would be an asset in this role. I hope to have the opportunity to discuss my background with you in person – I am available for an interview at a mutually convenient time.
Thank you for your time, courtesy and consideration.
Michael A. Ghibaudi
Conclusion – And A Special Note
When you apply for an open position, many employers want you to send a resume and submit it as part of the application process. Even though it may not be listed as a requirement, companies also want you to send a cover letter with your resume to explain why you’re qualified for the position.
A cover letter is optional for stating your qualifications that a resume by nature can not correctly illustrate, I always recommend that it is usually a good idea to include one in ANY application you submit.
Although this article was longer than others I have written, I wanted to ensure I correctly covered what a cover letter is used for and why you need to send one with your resume.
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4 thoughts on “How To Write a Killer Cover Letter”
Thank you very much for this detailed look at writing a cover letter. It’s always been my challenge. I always fail at putting my value proposition together. I underestimated its potency, but I will start doing that immediately. I will go beyond outlining my skill sets to include what and how I can be of use to the progress of the organization
Thank you for your feedback and comments. A value proposition is something that many fail to do and miss the opportunity to showcase how they can be an asset to an organization. It goes beyond your resume, and the Cover Letter is a great place to showcase it and bring it into view for a hiring manager.
Best of luck to you and thank you once again.
Thank you so much for sharing How To Write a Killer Cover Letter!
I’ve applied for jobs before that never required a cover letter, but i think it’s important to make one anyway!
I agree with what you said in your post, your value proposition highlights what makes YOU more attractive. So true!
I think having a cover letter that is genuine and authentic and really highlights why you want the job or position is key!
Thank you for all the tips!
Thank you for reading the article and providing me your feedback. Your right, many people overlook the cover letter, but as I explain in the article, that means you are missing an opportunity to showcase your unique value and highlight some attributes that a resume just can’t. It also can help separate you from your competitors since many do not bother to do one — remember, in many cases it’s the FIRST thing that a recruiter or hiring manager sees.