So what’s the difference between a cover letter and a resume?
In short – the resume showcases your achievements and skills, while the cover letter focuses more on your personality and motivations.
Of course, you should mention some of your relevant skills in the cover letter as well. But make sure you’re not repeating your resume word by word.
Now let's move on to the things that make every cover letter great!
Address your cover letter to the right person and make your introduction strong
Choosing the right salutation for your cover letter is crucial – after all, it’s the first thing the hiring manager will read.
For this reason, we’ve gathered several classic salutations. Note that some of them could be used even if you don't know the hiring manager's name.
- Dear Mr. James,
- Dear Human Resources Manager,
- To the [team you're applying for] Department,
- Dear [company name] Recruiter
The introduction of your cover letter is the first thing the hiring manager will read. Logically, having a strong introduction is your chance of getting their attention.
In order to do that, you need to get creative. Don’t just do what everyone else’s been doing for years, i.e. writing “I found this job opening on that website and decided to apply”.
Rather, show that you are genuinely excited about the position and the company. You could do that by mentioning your love for the industry or what you can bring to the table.
Talk about your hard and soft skills
Although you’ve probably listed (or are planning to list) your hard skills on your resume, don’t forget to mention them in your cover letter as well. One way to do that is by telling a personal story.
You can share how some of your skills or qualities have helped you achieve goals in the past. Or perhaps you want to talk about the things that help you get over challenges. You decide.
Naturally, both soft and hard skills should be present here. It’s especially important to include skills and qualifications that have been mentioned as part of the job description or the requirements section of the advert. This will help you pass applicant tracking systems that screen documents for certain keywords.
Prove how your skills can help the company grow
Showing that you’ve researched the company and are familiar with it is a good way to prove your work-readiness.
It will also point the recruiter to the fact that your skills and qualifications will have a long-term impact on the company. Just link some of your strengths to the ways in which current or potential issues can be resolved.
End with a call to action
The last part of your cover letter should briefly sum up everything you’ve said so far. It should also express your gratitude for the hiring manager’s time and consideration.
The tone of the closing line depends on two things – your personal preference and the company culture. Don’t go for overly creative phrases if the company you’re applying for relies on strictly corporate language.
Traditional lines such as “Looking forward to your reply” are usually considered a safe bet. So when in doubt, stick to them.