Each year businesses spend tons of money on their image and brand identity. Corporate CEOs want consumers to identify their business’ brand with little to no effort. This essentially means spending countless hours developing marketing materials to spread the company’s vision, reputation and mission, both in print and online. Similarly, people must invest in their own brand identity in order to be successful in their career prospects.
Creating your personal brand and best image all begins with the cover letter. The cover letter is essentially the conversation starter or door opener, it is the first impression for recruiters and hiring managers. When career counsellors talk about the famous elevator pitch, they are talking about your cover letter. It is not the interview, CV or job application that recruiters scrutinise first. Rather, it is actually the cover letter that recruiters will look at first because it gives them a feel and basic understanding for the potential candidates.
Although many job seekers are aware of the importance of personal cover letters and spend hours upon hours writing creative sentences and injecting their most valuable assets, they tailor think about tailoring their cover letter to fit the actual job they are applying for. Injecting brand material aimed at all jobs will lower your chances of landing the job interview. On the flip side, crafting a tailored, customised cover letter and connecting the dots will show the recruiter how your skills and experience are best suited to their particular needs.
Below are some strategies designed to help you tailor your cover letter, without overwhelming your job search.
Begin with your relevant abilities and skills
Hiring managers and recruiters search for candidates who fit their needs. You should include skills on your CV that mirror the assets the company is looking for in an employee. Compare your CV to the company’s job speculation. However, steer clear of copy and pasting and bland descriptions. Remember to focus on your major attributes and notable contributions.
For example – “As a Content Marketing Manager, with over 10 years’ experience creating strategies and campaigns to promote brand identity, I am able to ____. Some of my most recent accomplishments include:
- Increased web traffic by 120% by analysing the current online trends, aligining company standards and strategies to match those trends and creating promotional products to draw traffic.
- Awarded Content Marketing Manager of the Year by the company I work for currently for receiving major reach on our content and high turnovers.
Names are Important
Name dropping can be a dangerous idea if you do not follow the rules very carefully. However, people do enjoy reading their names in print. One area to include a name is the recipient’s address and salutation. If the job description or application identifies a specific person to contact, ensure you address your cover letter and other job application materials to that person. Even if the job does not say the person’s name, try to avoid using the phrases ‘To Whom it may concern’, ‘Dear Dir or Madam’ or ‘Dear Hiring Manager’. These phrases are very impersonal and dry. So, instead call up the company and ask for the contact person. Alternatively, you can do some digging on LinkedIn.
Occasionally companies have many team members working on job applications. In those circumstances, you may not be able to address the letter to a specific person. These scenarios require a much more professional technique. Therefore, you should address the letter to ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or the equivalent individual for the company. Stay away from any gender-specific language (ie Sir, Madam) as this is dangerous and can hurt people’s feelings. The recipient’s address should forego specific names and titles in this instance. Use the company’s name in place of the actual person.
Share with Them That You Want the Job and Why
We all typically focus on our qualities and accomplishments but forget the hiring process is not all about us. Hiring managers are looking for people who will benefit the business. In the last paragraph, not the closing paragraph, you should tell the hiring manager that you want the job and exactly why you want it. Explain this is the company you would like to work for and why that is. Go online and research the company’s ‘About Us’ page. Gather information about the company’s vision and mission statements. Find out more about their community engagement. Use all of this information to connect both your goals and the company’s goals.
Speak in their Language
Some companies have forgone the ‘human eyes’ approach to reading cover letters. Many now make use of advanced software to weed out the undesirable CVs and cover letters. In other words, you need to now convince a computer before gaining access to the recruiter or hiring manager. So, go back to the job speculation and carefully look for keywords. These are more likely to be listed in the requirements section. Include these skills in your CV and cover letter, especially if they are unique to the position. Although the urge to copy and paste the exact description into your cover letter is strong, do rewrite the description in your own words and align it with your CV, using the keywords.
Don’t Forget to Include an Introductory Paragraph
All cover letters begin with an introduction. A tailored, well-written cover letter must include the position, company’s name and other identifiers included in the job description. You should forego any personal greetings such as ‘Hope all is well’ or ‘I hope this letter finds you’. These personal messages are unprofessional and slopping. You should focus your introduction paragraph on the topic and outline of the cover letter.
Develop Your Overall Design
You should choose a basic design that is professional, while still reflecting your personality. Do not use off-the-wall fonts, images or colours. Creating a cover letter design just entails designing a stationary header for your cover letter. This should include your name, contact information and the job title.
Write a Specific Letter to Begin
Copy your first cover letter and begin with this template. Then, highlight all tailored information and replace it with brackets for easy identifications. Leave all the generic, bland information and soft skills as they are. This is transferable to all future personal cover letters.
Save Your Cover Letter as a Word Template
In order to prevent overwriting previous saved cover letters, save your document as a template. Once saved, every time you open the file, it will create a new cover letter, exactly as you formatted it.
Cover letters can be one of the most challenging parts of the job search process. However, one of the main reasons for this is because many people do not tailor their cover letter to each specific job. Rather, they send the same one to every job, despite the different requirements they are looking for. Nowadays, you also have to pass the test of a computer so it has never been more important to get your cover letter right. Use the above tips to create a tailored cover letter and watch the invitations for interviews fly in.