While I was looking back at my old files on a USB drive, I noticed I still had a copy of the cover letter that got me hired at the position I am in now.
While it’s not perfect, it definitely got the point across on why I was the best suited for the position. It had a few key aspects I think every cover letter should have…..
State Your Current Career Objective
In the opening paragraph it’s always a good idea to state the title/number of the position you are applying for. But I like to take it one step further and explain why the position fits with your current career objectives.
Would it give you experience in an area you are trying to develop? Are you looking to advance within the company? Whatever your career objectives are, be sure to state them and explain why the position fits with your goals.
List Your Skills
This one is fairly obvious – you need to state what skills you can offer the company. The skills you describe in your cover letter should be directly linked to the required skills as listed in the job posting. Along with stating your skills, you should also give specific examples on how each skill has been developed.
Think long and hard to come up with examples on how your previous experiences have developed your current skills. Perhaps you have developed time management skills by effectively managing several projects at once, or maybe you have great interpersonal skills because you have spent the last three years working with people from various parts of the company.
Anyone can say they have great skills – you need to separate yourself by explaining how your skills have been developed (using examples from your past work experience).
Explain Why You’re Applying
It’s crazy how many people miss this obvious one – you need to explain why you want this position and how you would be a good fit. Perhaps you work for a small company and want to make the jump to a bigger company to develop a more broad range of skills.
Or maybe you have ‘peaked’ at your current position and are looking for something more challenging. You need to explain why you are applying for the position and how the company fits with your long term career goals.
Show an Interest
Before you apply, make sure you do some basic research on the company.
The industry they are in, where they have operations, how they have performed in the recent past and what types of operations make them successful are all things you should know before applying.
It’s a good idea to add a sentence near the end of your cover letter showing you have already looked into the company, but you also need to link those facts back to how you would be a good fit.
An example is “Through my research of XYZ Company, I have noticed you have operations in numerous countries. A position in your company would allow me to develop my international relations skills while further enhancing the profile of the company overseas.”
Conclusion: Ultimately you need to demonstrate how you are the best fit for the position. Be sure to state your current career objective, list your skills (along with specific and recent examples), explain why you want the position and show initiative by doing basic research on the company.
What other tips do you have for successful cover letters?