How to tell your story with a cover letter
You have filled your kickass resume with impeccable accomplishments and all you need now is a cover letter to propel it to the top of the pile. But suddenly you find yourself struck by writer’s block? Cover letters still seem to cause anxiety for many well-qualified job seekers.
It’s not easy to find a unique way to capture the attention of HR managers, summarise your key strengths, and stand out from the pack with just one page.
You want to craft a cover letter that shines a positive light on your personality, skills, and abilities. It’s essentially your elevator pitch. But how do you tell your story with a cover letter? Here are a few tips.
Personal style and tone to make your mark
Cover letters are a valuable opportunity to start a relationship with an employer. Conveying a personality in the letter goes a long way in making you stand out. Your cover letter should show there is a person behind the paper who is not only capable and enthusiastic but someone who would fit into the organisation.
Express your individuality by being personable and natural in your writing rather than taking an overly formal tone. That means avoiding generic buzzwords, such as detail-oriented, problem solver, and resourceful. It’s about showing, not telling. But ensure that you are not too casual either, as a level of professionalism is always expected from applicants.
Open with a line that places readers into the story. What are you passionate about? It’s a great way to let a hiring manager know who you are.
Use narratives to your advantage
A cover letter can be used to persuade and convey emotions in ways that a resume cannot. Instead of mirroring your resume, write about your unique experiences, vision, and achievements in a more anecdotal approach. Using boilerplate language won’t capture anyone’s attention.
Focus on your particular strengths. For example, if you have a unique set of skills or some voluntary experience, you should highlight these in your cover letter. Perhaps you have taken measures to improve the processes in your previous company. Be specific and detailed in your explanation, but make sure you are also precise and brief. It’s important to find a good balance, as talking too much about yourself can seem unprofessional.
Narrating your qualifications and experiences with situations and problems that you have solved will give the hiring manager a vivid picture of what you will be like as an employee and how you will fit into their company.
Do your research and make it relatable
Discover things that few other candidates might know about. Browse websites, press releases, or reference what you’ve heard current employees say. Offering that extra detail will show your potential future employers that you have made the effort to research the organisation and demonstrates why you would make an excellent candidate.
Don’t forget to mention why you are interested in the company, as it will give you the chance to briefly talk about the company’s values and how these align with yours.
Explain which aspects of the company’s culture impress you and why. You also want to highlight the achievements that are most proud of. But make sure that these are actually relevant to the position.