Cover Letter Writing 101

Is the cover letter dead? While most job candidates would love the answer to be a resounding “yes,” that’s just not the case. Hiring managers still rely on cover letters to learn more about the job seekers they’re considering interviewing.

Yet, if you’re like many job candidates, writing a cover letter is a struggle. You’re not sure what to say, how to say it, and which details are going to make you stand out the most to potential employers. That’s where the cover letter writing experts at ResumeSpice come in. Below are some tips and tricks from our team to help you craft a quality letter that gets noticed:

Start with research

Before beginning the writing process, do some research. Learn all you can about the company, including its services, customers, mission and vision. When you have a solid understanding of what they do and who they serve, you’ll be able to demonstrate relevant examples of the value you can offer.

After some leg work you’ll also gain a better sense of the tone you should be using in your letter. For instance, if you’re applying to work in a more formal, corporate setting, then you’ll want to be more conservative with your language.

Make a memorable opening statement

Avoid the “I am applying for the position of ABC analyst.” This simply wastes valuable real estate on the page and does nothing to convince a hiring manager of your worth. Instead, stand out with a strong opening statement. Talk about what grabbed your attention about the job or what excites you about the company. When a hiring manager has read through dozens of cover letters with the same opening statement – and yours offers a fresh and interesting perspective – you’ll differentiate yourself in a big way.

Show the value you can offer.

Hiring managers want to get to know candidates who have a solid track record of achievements. It’s therefore smart to offer relevant examples of a problem you helped solve, a successful project you initiated and completed, and any other results you were able to deliver in past positions.

Demonstrate enthusiasm.

Many times, hiring managers are used to seeing dry or boilerplate cover letters from job candidates. That’s why a little energy and enthusiasm can go a long way in helping to set yourself apart. So talk about why you want the job and what about the company stands out to you. For instance, “I read your company blog daily and would be thrilled to be a part of an organization known for setting industry standards.”

Writing a cover letter can be a daunting task for many job seekers. If you would like professional help with the process, connect with the cover letter writing experts at ResumeSpice. We will learn about your background, experience, and accomplishments to help you produce a winning letter that showcases why you’re uniquely qualified. Call 832.930.7378 today to learn more.

Why You Need an Original Cover Letter for Each Job You’re Applying to

Some candidates make the mistake of focusing on their resume without giving much thought to their cover letter. Others don’t even send one in at all, believing that hiring managers simply don’t read them.

But submitting a personalized and persuasive letter, along with your resume, is another vital tool that will help you stand out in a sea of other candidates. Here’s why:

  • Your cover letter is a great place to get personal about your background, skills, and abilities. You can share a story that ties in well with the opening to which you’re applying. Or you can talk about your in-depth knowledge of the company and how excited you were when you saw the posting. Your cover letter provides space for you to showcase who are you as a candidate beyond just your skill set and past job titles.

  • Another reason a personalized cover letter is so important is that it gives you the chance to get more specific about why you’re a great fit for the job. While your resume is talking about your past, your cover letter can highlight your present state – i.e. why you want the job – and the future value you can contribute. You can discuss what you bring to the table, the impact you could make if hired, and which specific skills and abilities the employer might be most interested in putting to work.

Whatever you do with your cover letter, avoid regurgitating what you have on your resume, just in letter form. The information you include in your cover letter should be unique to that document and either build on, or introduce, what’s in your resume. It shouldn’t be a replica. 

Some other tips from our professional cover letter writers to help you craft a polished and powerful letter include:

  • Research the company and their hiring needs so you can more easily align your background and abilities with their mission, culture, and job opening.
  • Write a great lead. This is the opening sentence and should engage the hiring manager from the start, so they want to keep reading.
  • While you should always be professional, it’s ok to go with a warm and friendly tone in your cover letter. You want to come off as a human, not a robot.
  • Avoid clichés and empty statements, like you’re a “hard worker” or “team player.” Instead, get specific and offer details and stories that show you’re a hard worker, rather than saying it.

Clearly, writing a cover letter isn’t always easy. That’s why if you’re struggling with the job, then you should consider working with professional cover letter writers, like those at ResumeSpice. We can help you distinguish yourself from the competition, all so you get the call for an interview. Interested in learning more? Contact us at 832.930.7378 today.

To Whom Should I Address My Cover Letter

You’ve just composed a beautiful cover letter. You’ve expressed your enthusiasm for the role and the hiring company, you’ve communicated what makes you uniquely qualified for the position, you’ve included the employee’s name who referred you to the role…you’ve diligently followed everything ResumeSpice preaches about writing cover letters.

Last, minor detail: to whom should you address your cover letter? Below are our suggestions, ranked in order from ideal to least effective:

Address the letter directly to the hiring manager (i.e., Mr. Wilson)

The ideal scenario is that you know the person’s name who is hiring for the role. You don’t? Ok, time to do some research. The first step is to search LinkedIn for the hiring manager’s name. Many roles list the hiring manager directly in the job posting. Next, check the company’s website to see if you can match the hiring manager to the person the role reports to, as outlined in the job description. Next, do you know someone at the company who can fill you in? Have you called into the company (without providing your name) and asked who the person is who is hiring for that role? It takes some effort and ingenuity, but addressing the letter directly to the hiring manager is one small factor that can help set your cover letter apart in a sea of generic applications.

Dear Hiring Manager:

When you’ve exhausted all options for uncovering the hiring manager’s name, the next best option is to address the letter “Dear Hiring Manager”. This salutation makes it clear who you’re trying to contact and is slightly less generic than the other options listed below.

To Whom It May Concern:

The perfect salutation when applying for a position that was posted before 1980. This was “the” catch-all salutation for the pre-Internet years, but in a business culture that, for better or for worse, has become progressively less formal, “To Whom It May Concern” seems conspicuously outdated.

Dear Sir/Madam:

Ideal for situations where you are applying to be someone’s butler. In all seriousness, we recommend avoiding this salutation 🙂

Interestingly, the results of a study by Saddleback College, in a survey of more than 2,000 companies, found that employers preferred the following greetings:

  • Dear Hiring Manager (40%)
  • To Whom It May Concern (27%)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

Hopefully the above information has helped shed some light on cover letter salutations. Need some help composing your cover letter? The team at ResumeSpice would love to help!

If you would like to talk to a career consultant about how to – ahem – spice up your cover letter, give ResumeSpice a call or contact us to chat with one of our consultants about how our professional services can help you.

Common Cover Letter Mistakes

As a leading provider of professional resumes and cover letters, the team at Resume Spice has seen it all.

The only thing worse than a bad cover letter is a perfectly qualified individual whose chances at an interview are shot by a few easily avoidable errors. We don’t like to see that happen.

Review the list below and see if you can make any of these small, but important changes that just might help you land your next opportunity.

Repeating your resume.

Your cover letter is not the place to rehash your resume. Instead, it’s an opportunity for you to rouse the employer’s interest. Focus on showing why you want the job and what qualities you bring to the table.

Writing too much.

It’s okay to write a lot when you’re drafting your cover letter. But before you send it to a hiring manager, spend some time thoughtfully editing the message you’re trying to convey. You want to demonstrate that you’re concise, can organize your thoughts, and can communicate well.

Focus on keeping your cover letter under one page. Typically, 2-3 paragraphs will do the trick.

Sending the same cover letter to every company.

Every job you’re applying to will have its own unique requirements, so you’ll need to customize each of your cover letters to showcase why you’re the best fit for those requirements.

Not proofreading.

Read your cover letter at least three times aloud. Sometimes your eyes will skip something incorrect, but if you read it aloud, your ears will pick up on anything that doesn’t sound quite right.

Just to make sure you’re sending a cover letter that reads well and sounds credible, send it to a trusted friend or colleague for a quick review.

Bringing it together

Tweaking each cover letter is going to take some time, but no detail should be overlooked when you’re trying to find your next opportunity.

Let us help!

If you need a little help getting started on your cover letter or want to talk to a career consultant about how to – ahem – spice up your cover letter, give Resume Spice a call or contact us to chat with one of our consultants about how our professional services can help you.