Great! You needed a cover letter, so you found a cover letter template online. You wrote your name and address, put down the position title and company, and threw in a few of your skills. You’re done, right?
Unfortunately, only filling in the blanks in a cover letter template isn’t enough to get you hired fast. Simply including a cover letter will help make sure that the employer will read your resume, but it’s important to take advantage of the amazing opportunity cover letters give you.
Cover letters actually allow you to tell employers exactly why they should hire you. They’re a fantastic way you can tell your story – who you are and why you’re the best candidate – in an interesting way that will get noticed.
Because, to be honest, resumes are just made up of lists, and lists aren’t very exciting to read. Employers have to review hundreds of similar looking resumes from candidates. Creating a compelling cover letter is one of the best ways you can stand out from the competition.
So, how do you turn a cover letter template into a compelling cover letter that works?
One of the most straightforward ways you can personalize a cover letter template is to address is to the right person.
Searching online for the right hiring manager’s name only takes a few minutes, but addressing your cover letter properly makes a massive difference. Hiring managers are always impressed when they see their name on a cover letter.
In fact, some hiring managers say that they won’t read cover letters unless they’re specifically addressed to them by name. Writing “Sir,” “Ma’am”, or, “To Whom It May Concern” may lead your cover letter to get ignored entirely!
Here are a few easy methods you can use to find the right hiring manager:
Look on LinkedIn
Find the right hiring manager by logging into your LinkedIn profile, and then look up the employer in the search bar. Scan through the search results until you find the hiring manager’s profile.
If there are too many results to look through quickly, try narrowing down your search results by location and department.
Smaller companies will often post their staff member’s profiles and professional contact information online.
If they have, all you need to do is look through the staff profiles until you find the right hiring manager to address your cover letter to.
Just Call and Ask
When in doubt, just search Google for the employer’s main telephone line, and then ask the receptionist who the hiring manager is for the department you’re inquiring about.
2. Create a Cover Letter That Stands Out
Your cover letter should answer the basic question all employers ask themselves when they’re reading a job application, which is, “Why should I hire you?”
Starting with a cover letter template is great. However, it’s important to tailor the cover letter so that you’re answering their question in an interesting way.
Your cover letter should tell employers why you’re the best candidate for the job. It should be professional, but it should also be unique enough that employers don’t want to fall asleep while they’re reading it.
You can make your cover letter compelling in many ways. You can start by checking out the online and social media presence of the employer you’re applying for to evaluate what kind of cover letter they’d like to receive.
For example, if you’re applying for a law firm that’s extremely formal, tailor your cover letter to match. Be highly professional and highlight your uniqueness by giving specific examples about your corporate accomplishments with quantitative evidence.
On the other hand, if you’re applying to a young, hip company, they may respond better to an informal cover letter, like the unexpected opening sentence in this personalized cover letter example.
3. Sprinkle Keywords in the Cover Letter
Lastly, review the original job posting to see if you can find important keywords that you can use to personalize your cover letter template to make it unique.
Employers look for these keywords in cover letters to make sure candidates are paying attention to what the most important qualifications and requirements are for a job.
Examples of common keywords include: sales goals, quota, manages, manager, point of sales systems, and specific certifications and degrees.