Does this sound like you? You found your dream job posting and completed an impressive targeted resume. Now you are staring at the blank screen, trying to write a cover letter. You have started with the date, who it is being sent to, and got as far as “Dear Human Resources”. Now what? If you are a job seeker who panics when writing a cover letter, Achēv is proud to provide you with six clever ideas to put you on the right track.
1. Remember the goal
A cover letter is a mandatory business document that always escorts the resume. It should be 250 to 400 words on one page and concise enough for someone to read in 10 seconds. A cover letter is a chance to describe your professional story in a conversational tone that is compelling, easy to understand and captures the attention of the employer.
2. Go beyond your resume
There is no need to repeat or summarize your resume in a cover letter. According to recent surveys, this is one of the reasons many employers disregard the cover letter. Instead, your letter is a place to provide more details and context. Focus on the employer, showcase your skills instead of your education, and present 1 or 2 examples of how your experience will support their company. In Canada, volunteer experience is just as important as employment experience, so include how you champion your community or how you are involved with professional associations.
3. Focus away from “I” and toward “them”
If every sentence of your cover letter begins with “I” or “my”, you need to change the direction of your writing. Think of your cover letter as a sales pitch. Instead of composing a letter that is about yourself and your needs and wants, consider the needs of the employer. Ask yourself why the company is hiring for this role. Try to relate to the needs of the employer and position your examples and skills as the solution.
4. Use numbers and statistics to back up your claims
Your cover letter should describe the impact you had on previous experience. Did you increase sales? Did you organize an amazing number of meetings or events in a short time period? Did you create a new workflow process 30% more efficient? These types of numbers will make your cover letter stand out.
5. Write in their voice
Your cover letter is an opportunity to show that you understand the culture and environment of the company you are targeting. Every company is different and some are casual while others are traditional. Research their website and read their social media posts before you start writing. Have a sense of the company tone, language and culture, so you can select words that connect to the employer.
6. Finalize with a call to action
Cover letters are often concluded with the throwaway line of “I look forward to hearing from you”. Instead, use the last paragraph to emphasize your enthusiasm and wrap up points that you could not fit into the previous paragraphs. Be courteous by thanking the reader for their time and ask them to take action. For example, “Thank you in advance for considering my application. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more businesses have moved their workforce online and I would very much like to discuss how my remote communication expertise can support your goals.”
In summary, cover letters are part of all applications and where you can explain issues including gaps in your employment, or interest in relocating to a new city, or ability to adhere to the new health and safety regulations created by COVID-19. In a workplace where employers are inundated with applications, write a clever cover letter that grabs the attention of the reader.
Achēv’s Employment Ontario services can provide you with assistance in writing your next cover letter and resume. Every year, our Career Specialists and Staffing Specialists assist more than 25,000 job seekers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Our services are delivered virtually and in person at 6 employment centres located across Toronto, North York, Mississauga and Brampton. Contact Achēv today to learn more about cover letters and all employment preparation essentials!
This blog was written by Lisa Trudel, Career Specialist, Achēv.