Cover letters can be challenging to write. It can be difficult to write anything when you’re starting from scratch, and it’s even harder if it’s about yourself. Facing down an empty Word document and trying to explain why you’re qualified for the job can be excruciating, and you might be tempted to just skip it. But skipping it isn’t necessarily an option. If a job application requires it, you might even be able to click, ‘Next,’ until you attach the document. If you can submit the application without the document, the HR recruiters on the other side can just filter you out by only looking at applications that followed instructions.
Is there anything that can make cover letters easy?
There are many different strategies for writing your cover letter, and a lot of exceptional strategies start the same way: find a template.
Cover letter templates are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable. You can find cover letter templates for internal positions, for your specific industry, and even for someone with your general level of experience. All you have to do is search for them online, and thousands of good ideas will pop up. Using a template removes the biggest roadblock in writing a cover letter because the bulk of the text and the organization is already done for you.
But that doesn’t mean you can just copy one template, insert your name, and call it done. That might work, especially if the company is just using a cover letter to knock out the applicants who don’t bother with it, but that’s a risky strategy. Instead, find two to three letters that you like. Then mix and match the pieces you like the best. You might like the beginning and ending paragraphs of one example but prefer how another letter focuses on education because you’re looking for an entry-level job. Even if you don’t prefer one letter over another, you have to make it your own. It’s just much easier to do that by rearranging component parts into a new, final document than creating everything yourself.
Now that you have your template made from sections of other templates, there are a few elements you have to personalize it with. After all, a computer and a person will be reading your cover letter if you make it through to an interview. So make sure you use the opportunity to:
Add the right contact details.
It’s simple, but it’s essential. Change the address block and the salutation to match your best guess of the person who will be reading the document. The job description might give the name of the hiring manager, especially in small companies or for internal positions, or you might have to start with ‘To Whom It May Concern, or ‘To the X Department at Y Company.’ Sometimes an exact name isn’t possible, but the more specific you can make it, the better. Also, change the address in the top left of the letter to the company’s address. These simple additions show that you aren’t just attaching the same cover letter to every application.
With that in mind, never leave in the contact information from your last application. Always double check.
Change the position and company name in the body of the letter.
Every cover letter should mention the exact job title and the exact company name. Preferably twice. Stressed and savvy HR representatives are making it a search term when they narrow down the applicant pool. Adding it also proves to human readers that you are customizing the letter at least a little.
Add detail about the company.
Find something you like about the company, whether it’s something in the company culture, a nonprofit initiative, or something unique about their organizational structure. If your cover letter makes it to a hiring manager, they are much more likely to remember you. Going the extra mile in a job application is almost always the right thing to do. Taking five minutes to find out something about the company and add a sentence to your cover letter is a pretty easy mile; just don’t leave it in the template for the next application.
Personalizing a great cover letter shouldn’t bog down your job search. Instead, pause your job search right now and create your cover letter template so you don’t have to later. Contact us for more strategies and tips so your cover letter gets you more interviews for your Hawaii job search.