9 Proven Cover Letter Strategies to Land the Job Interview You Want

Applying for a Job is Like Sex: Crafting a Cover Letter that Does the Job

When it comes to job hunting, the odds are always against the job seeker. You are one in a million, quite literally; in the U.S alone, there were 5.2 million job openings in April 2019, and 5.8 million people looking for jobs. According to Forbes, “56% of HR professionals and recruiters say they’ve seen an increase in job applicants in general. The average number of applicants per job opening is 250.” In such a crowded field, how can you stand out? Enter the cover letter, the document that will land you the interview. Crafting a good cover letter can be tricky. It’s a bit like sex; the more interested you are, the higher your chances of a good outcome. Here, we offer some tips for writing a cover letter that will capture the attention of the hiring manager and get you that coveted interview.

1. Attach your cover letter to a great resume.

Your cover letter is your first line of defense against the competition. If it falls flat, your resume may not make it to the top of the pile, and you may never get that interview. To ensure that your cover letter is effective, attach it to a great resume. Do some research on the company and the role you are applying for, and create a targeted resume. Don’t just list your work history; focus on the skills and achievements that make you a great fit for the role. Keep your resume to one page, and make it easy to update as you apply for new roles.

2. Write a three-paragraph cover letter.

Your cover letter should be brief and to the point. Aim for three paragraphs total, and keep them short and sweet. Save your cover letter in both .pdf and .doc formats, and name it with your full name and the date, so you can keep track of which version you sent. Use a professional formatting style, with no indentation on the paragraphs. Start with a header that includes the date, and address the hiring manager personally. End with your contact information. Use two spaces after “Sincerely” and no spaces between your name, phone number, and email.

3. Introduce yourself in the first paragraph.

Your first paragraph should be short and to the point. State your name, and give a brief overview of who you are and what you have accomplished. Don’t just list your experience; explain what you have done and why it matters. Be specific about the skills and achievements that make you a great fit for the role. Show the reader what you can do for their company. For example:

Hi, [Name], my name is [Your Name], and I am excited to apply for the [Job Title] role at [Company Name]. As an experienced [your current job or previous job], I have achieved [list some achievements that relate to the role], and I am confident that I can bring these skills to [Company Name] and contribute to your mission.

4. Explain your career goals in the second paragraph.

The second paragraph is the meat of your cover letter. This is where you explain why you want to work for the company and how your career goals align with their mission. Do some research on the company, and find out what they value most. Look for ways to connect your own career goals with theirs. Explain why you are interested in the role, and how it fits into your long-term career plan. For example:

My goal is to build a career in [your industry or field], and I am excited to work for a company that shares my values and commitment. [Company Name] is known for [list some achievements or values], and I am eager to be part of a team that is making a real difference in [the field or industry]. With my [list some relevant skills and achievements], I believe I can contribute to [Company Name]’s success and grow professionally.

5. Show your enthusiasm and team spirit in the third paragraph.

The third paragraph is where you wrap up your pitch and show your enthusiasm for the role. Explain that you are excited to learn more about the company and to work together as a team. Use “we” statements to show that you are already invested in the company’s mission. Don’t end with a question, but with a confident statement that expresses your eagerness for the next step. For example:

I am excited to learn more about [Company Name] and to work with you to achieve our shared goals. I believe that my skills and experience can make a meaningful contribution to your team, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to interview for this role. Thank you for considering my application, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

6. Include a cover letter with every application.

It may seem like a lot of work, but including a cover letter with every application is a small investment in your future. Applying for jobs is a numbers game, and the more applications you send out, the higher your chances of getting an interview. Applications that include a cover letter are more likely to be read by a human being, so don’t skip this step. Use online job boards to find as many relevant openings as possible, and customize your cover letter for each one.

7. Find the right people to send your cover letter to.

Sending your cover letter to the right people is just as important as writing a good one. If you can’t get your cover letter to the right person, it may never be read at all. Research the company online, and look for contact information for the hiring manager or a department head. Use LinkedIn to find the name of the person in charge of the role you are applying for, and email them directly. Include your cover letter in the email body and attach your resume. If they refer you to an online application, you can use their name as a referral to increase your chances of success.

8. Use a business card as a mini-cover letter.

A business card is a simple and effective tool for networking during your job search. Carry them with you at all times, and hand them out to potential contacts. Your business card should include your name, contact information, and a short description of your skills and career goals. Think of it as a mini-cover letter that can help you stay top of mind with people you meet.

In conclusion, writing a cover letter is like initiating a successful romantic encounter. You must be confident, professional, and show enthusiasm and empathy for the needs of the other party. Keep it brief, targeted, and sincere. Always remember that you are offering your services to the company, not the other way around. By crafting a great cover letter and targeting the right people, you can increase your chances of getting that interview and landing your dream job.

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