According to 83% of hiring managers, cover letters are an important part of every recruiter’s decision-making process.
What’s more, 72% of them will expect you to hand in a great cover letter, even if this part is listed as ‘optional’ on the job advert.
And if you ask our experts, cover letters are an amazing opportunity to tell a personal story and make the right first impression.
But what exactly is a cover letter and how to write a good one? Let’s see…
Make your research assistant cover letter stand out
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!
Use an appropriate salutation and write a powerful introduction
It’s always better to address your cover letter to a specific person. This shows that you’ve taken the time to research who the hiring manager might be and that you’re attentive to detail.
However, in case you don’t know the recruiter’s name, you can go for traditional gender-neutral salutations.
Here are some of our suggestions:
- To the [team you're applying for] Department
- Dear Paul Black
- Dear Hiring Manager
- Dear Ms. Stone
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.
Link your hard and soft skills to your achievements
Although you’ve probably listed all your skills on your resume, it’s worth mentioning them again, but by telling a personal story. Focusing on your soft skills and leaving most hard ones behind is also a good idea.
Maybe you want to mention the things that help you overcome setbacks? Or the things that help you reach your goals? It doesn’t really matter what you choose, as long as you link it back to the specific job requirements.
Naturally, if the job advert mentions some hard skills explicitly, you should do the same in your cover letter. This will help you pass applicant tracking systems (ATS) that screen resumes and cover letters for certain keywords.
Show that you know the company and its problems well
Adding a line or two about the company can help you prove your excitement and readiness to become a valuable team member.
You might also choose to link your previous work-related tasks and achievements to current industry or even company issues and how you think they can be resolved.
Choose the right closing line
While the introduction is the best way to make a good impression, using the right words to end your cover letter can help you get a callback.
Our advice is to make sure that your closing line matches the company culture. However, “Looking forward to hearing from you” and other traditional phrases are always a safe choice.