A lot of job applications are a matter of point and click. Sometimes it’s literally that easy: Find a job that looks good and click on the job site to send a pre-loaded resume. Then it’s just a matter of waiting.
Other times, the process is more involved. The first extra step a lot of potential employers ask for involves submitting a cover letter.
At times, this can seem annoying. But think of it as an opportunity. It’s another way to introduce yourself to a potential employer and another place where you can differentiate yourself from the competition.
Here are five steps to writing a great cover letter:
Write Something That Complements Your Resume
Don’t duplicate your resume. It contains all the main points of your career, so you can assume your potential employer already knows the basic stuff. Instead, identify the things you can take a step further, or things left out entirely. Use the added opportunity to introduce yourself more fully.
Make It Unique
Employers get lots of resumes. The total number of applicants can easily reach triple digits. You don’t want to get buried in that pile. The cover letter is a chance to stand out. Don’t just think about how you can fill the job. Think about how you’re the only person who can fill it. Think about what unique experience or perspective only you can bring.
Use It to Fill out Details in Your Resume
Resumes are basically data lists. Often machine-read and algorithmically processed, they are good for filling out the basic check list of requirements for a position. Cover letters can go a step beyond that. Someone might read it – especially if the prospective employer asked specifically for a cover letter to be included. So, provide additional information that didn’t fit into the tight confines of your resume.
Tell Your Personal Story
Along with the ability to extend the information you include in your resume, the cover letter opens another door: to your personality. There is a risk of overshare in this, so try to keep things under control. (You might ask someone to read it over if you try something creative.) But mild sharing can only help. Did you take time out of your career to raise a kid? Did you volunteer extensively? The cover letter is a good place to touch on these things.
Find a Balance Between a Template and Customization
With a generic resume and a generic cover letter, it is possible to apply to jobs in large numbers. This shotgun approach can improve your chances of getting a job by the shear force of numbers. But securing any individual job becomes less likely, as you give up the kind of opportunities that customizing your cover letter can give. It’s important to find a balance. For most job postings, it might be best to just put out that generic version and see what happens. But if it’s a position you really want, spend the extra time to tailor the cover letter, maximizing your chance to make a strong connection.
Crafting a cover letter becomes easier when you get expert help. A staffing agency can give you the kind of career direction you need to maximize your chances of landing that dream job. Contact LaborMax for more information about our job opportunities in Kansas City and beyond.