Cover Letter Writing Secrets That Will Improve Your Chances of Getting Hired in 2020
An average corporate job opening receives up to 200 applications. Do you really expect the HR people to read every cover letter that comes in the package? Only 26% of recruiters actually read them.
But the same survey of recruiters found that over 50% of HR people expect to see a cover letter and treat applicants who sent one better than the others.
Why? The recruiters may not read the letter, but they acknowledge your efforts. So the sole fact of writing one already gives you extra points in the eyes of more than half of recruiters.
Unless a job opening explicitly states you don’t need to add the letter to the application, write one. Here’s how you make sure the third of employers who do read cover letters find yours fascinating.
Match the tone with the company
Treat your cover letter as a sales copy. You want to write one that would match your employer’s expectations and soothe their main pains. Start the process of crafting a letter with understanding what kind of company you’re applying to.
If it’s a corporate machine that wants another cog, use the official language. If the company is looking for somebody on the creative side and seems quite friendly in the culture it promotes, feel free to express yourself like you normally would.
Forget the cliches that everybody else is using, if that company wanted a robot, they’d get an AI, not you.
Compliment the company
Who doesn’t love good old flattery? Not only does it make the recruiter feel good because they’re a part of the organization you’re complimenting, but it shows you’re observant. It shows you care enough about the company to follow the updates.
The important thing here is to be very specific with your compliment. If you write “Samplecompany is a great example for the industry, I’d love to work with you,” you mean nothing. It could be any other company.
When you specify the compliment, it shows you know what you’re talking about. A line that reads “I’ve read your CTO is speaking on the next Digital Summit. Wow. That’s the woman I’d love to work with” works much better.
It shows you’ve been following the news about the company and comes off as sincere thanks to that “wow.”
Point out the value can you add
The odds are the recruiter already knows you want to work with the company, it’s an application letter after all. When you say that you’re excited to work with the company, jump right in and tell that you will provide value for the company as well.
Don’t be vague, though. Instead of saying you have communication skills, say something specific about yourself or your character that shows off your skills. A phrase like “I manage to get the grumpiest coworkers to listen” would accomplish the goal much better.
Winfried Wengenroth, the CEO of ONMA, comments that during international hires, his team found out that applicants fresh out of 4 years of college don’t have enough hands-on skills. He adds that young people who are looking for work would be better off mentioning their skills instead of college they went too. After all, education is covered in the resume already.
You can talk about your overall skills all day, but most people will do that as well. You need something unique to stand out. Create highlights of your career and present them in the cover letter. Put them in a bullet list to make sure the recruiter will see these highlights even if they’re just scanning the letter.
Your best bet here is to namedrop or to provide a stat. Did you work with a big brand or a famous person? Did you manage to improve something at work and you have numbers to back it up? Put that on the list.
It’s okay if you put group projects on the list. You may have been a part of the team, not the leader of the project, but you did help the team accomplish something, so it counts.
Drop a hint you’re staying
Recruiters fear most is employee churn. If they hire you and you bounce in a few months, they’re not getting any bonuses in that quarter.
Make it easier for them to make a decision by dropping a hint that you’re done with job-hopping and want to settle down for a couple of years.
Call to action
Finish your cover letter with something more interesting than “I am looking forward to hearing from you.” If the recruiter read it to the end, they’re probably interested and may talk to you if you ask.
Try a sincere and straightforward CTA like “Call me from 10:00 to 18:00 to schedule an interview,” and you may get an instant response.
Rebecca Willis: HR manager, personal trainee in management, writer at Ivory Research and active guest contributor.