4 steps to write a cover letter that will blow the recruiter's mind
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
I think you'll agree with me when I say:
"It's REALLY hard to convince someone that you are the best person for the job"
Or is it?
When you’re applying for a job, submitting a cover letter (also called motivation letter) can show the recruiter that you are really serious about working for them.
The cover letter needs to showcase your best qualities and answer a simple question: why (out of 7 billion people) YOU are the one.
Trying to convince a recruiter is not easy, and can cause several hours of headaches and frustration - don’t worry - we are here to help.
Keep reading below, and today you will be able to create a cover letter that will blow the recruiter's mind!
A note about structure
When writing a cover letter, it is important that you respect a certain structure.
Ideally, it should be divided into 4 paragraphs (see picture below):
Name and personal information
In this article I will explain in details what you should - and should not - write in each paragraph of your cover letter.
#1. The heading: name and personal information
This is an easy one. You just need to include your name and personal information such as:
Links to LinkedIn profile or personal website (if applicable)
What I really like to do - I have NEVER seen anyone else doing this, even though the employer REALLY likes it - is to put the logo of the company I am applying for at the top right corner of the document.
This gives a great deal of personalization to your cover letter and shows that you took time to create a unique document just for them.
After your personal information, you can start writing the letter. Needless to say, you should start with a greeting, like you would in an email.
Another HUGE bonus point is to direct the letter to a specific person (Ex: Dear Mr. Brown). To do this you obviously need to know the name of the hiring manager or HR person.
If you cannot find it, do some research, check on the official website of the company, under the “Career” or “work for us” page, they might reveal the name of someone in the HR department.
To stay on the safe side, always address the person by their last name (ex: Dear Ms. Miller) and not by their first name (Ex: Dear Jane).
If you cannot find the name, simply right “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear COMPANY X Recruiter” etc…
Once you have completed this simple step, it’s time to start writing...
#2. Create an impressive opening paragraph
This is where it gets trickier.
The first block of text on your cover letter (after your name, info and greeting) is the opening paragraph. Here you will explain - shortly - who you are and why you are the person for the job.
Try to keep this paragraph short and to the point. The goal of this paragraph is to catch the attention of the recruiter and invite them to continue to read the whole letter.
If you have tons of experience and concrete numbers or awards to showcase, this is the space for it. Example:
As an admirer of COMPANY X’s sustainability projects and initiatives, I would like to formally apply for the position of Sales Director. I am positive I can contribute to COMPANY X’s international expansion. I have experience with leading successful sales campaign strategies for cold acquisitions worth $50’000 in net profit.
The above example is great to showcase your achievements, especially if you have the experience to back it up.
But what if you don’t have any experience or numbers to show off?
Then make the opening paragraph all about your motivation and soft skills.
Soft skills are qualities which are NOT measurable by experience or awards, they are skills like empathy, being a fast learner, having a positive and open mindset etc…
If you don’t have years of experience to back you up, you could write something like this:
As a loyal user and admirer of COMPANY X’s services, I am excited to formally apply for the position of Customer Service Agent. With my Hospitality and Business Degree as well as my proven communication skills and problem solving abilities, I know I can use my skill set and knowledge to quickly become a valuable member of the COMPANY X’s team.
The above example is great for an entry level job where you don’t need tons of experience, since it showcases your motivation and soft skills which are applicable to the job.
#3. Main paragraph: Personalization
Now it's time for you to drop the bomb - describe your past experiences and qualities - but remember to PERSONALIZE:
Personalizing the cover letter to the job and company you are applying for is essential. A general cover letter that could apply to any job and does not convey any special ideas, is not gonna get you hired.
So how can you tailor the motivation letter to a particular job?
---> Read through the job description very very carefully and identify what qualities or experiences you can relate to. On the main paragraph of the cover letter you will emphasize these points about yourself and you will explain how and when you developed these skills.
For example: You want to apply for a digital marketing position, however your last experience was in Sales. You are reading through the requirements on the job description and you realize that you don’t possess any of the skills required except one: the recruiter is asking for experience in creating digital marketing email campaigns. So on the cover letter, you will emphasize the fact that you excelled at creating catchy email marketing campaigns which contributed to increase the sales by 30% (for example).
This is just an example to show that even if you may not be the ideal candidate or you don’t possess all the requirements to apply for a job, you need to emphasize the skills that you already possess and explain how your past experiences relate to the new job.
Steer clear from listing skills that are not applicable to the job you’re applying to, even though you think they are important.
You need to write exactly what the employer is looking for and show them with concrete examples why you can satisfy all of their needs.
In summary, the main paragraph of the cover letter should contain references to your past experience or education - and links on how these experiences helped you gain the skills that the company needs from you.
Now, you don’t have to include ALL of your former jobs, just the most relevant to the position you’re applying to.
#4. Conclusion paragraph: Show your motivation
When the hiring manager finishes reading your cover letter, he/she should be mind blown by how much you want to join the team.
At the end of the letter, show them why you are dying to work for them and ONLY for them.
The best way to make a positive impression is to research about the company you are applying to, what projects they are working on, what are their values and core philosophy. Then, simply explain why these values are aligned with yours, or what projects really interest you, or why you admire their work…
For example, if you are applying for a company in the sustainability field which helps to fight global warming, you could write something like this:
Working for a company such as COMPANY X would be an honor for me, not only your values are aligned with mine, but more importantly I would love to work for a company that finds sustainable solutions to help the environment, especially when it comes to food waste.
Or if you know that the company is working on a special project:
I know that COMPANY X’s current plans involve developing an online platform for your customer support. This project is a perfect match for my personal and professional interests and I would love to leverage my knowledge of web development and SEO to contribute to the success of COMPANY X’s.
The above are both good example because:
They are extremely personalized and tailored to a specific company
It shows that you did your research and you are genuinely interested in the company
It explains how you could be an asset for the company, whit concrete examples
On the contrary, a very bad way to show your motivation and showcase your skills would be to simply state the fact that you are excited for the opportunity or just bragging about your qualities, without providing any concrete example or link to the company.
For example, DO NOT write something like this:
Working for a company such as COMPANY X would be an honor for me and I believe that I will be an asset for your company. = WRONG
The above example is NOT good because:
There is no personalization, it could apply to any company
It shows that you did not research anything about the company
It doesn’t prove why you would be an asset
Conclude the cover letter with a polite sentence of greetings, such as
“I am grateful for your consideration and I thank you for your time
Writing the perfect cover letter is not an easy task - however, if you follow a few simple precautions - you will stand out from the crowd:
Be concise and to the point and catch the employer attention from the opening paragraph
Personalize the letter with employer name, logo and relate your past experiences to the new job + explain how your qualities will benefit the company
Show that you researched about the company and express your motivation
I hope this article was helpful!
I know how hard the job hunting process can be - and it's not easy to cope with employer's rejections.
If you are feeling like you need a helping hand, I am here for you.
Find more information here.