- My Contingent Plan
- How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter Faster
How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter Faster
Tips to Write Better Cover Letters and Mistakes to Avoid
Cover letter writing takes time, sometimes way too much time to complete. Applying to jobs with a quality application is key in the current competitive job search market. A well-written cover letter can help you stand out from the competition and showcase your skills and experience to potential employers.
The best cover letter will get you the interview. But, how long it takes to write that cover letter can depend on the job and what the hiring manager really wants to know. Our recruiters and resume writing team put together this guide to help you spend less time with your cover letters while making a bigger impact in your job search. We will cover cover letter basics, types of letters, tips to write a strong cover letter, and mistakes to avoid. Here we go!
Understanding the Importance of a Cover Letter
When applying for a job, many candidates focus on perfecting their resumes and overlook the role of a cover letter. A cover letter can play a big role in applying for a job and it can take a lot of time. To write a cover letter faster, it is important to first understand their purpose and value in the job search. And, by implementing the key strategies that we outline below you can also streamline the cover letter writing process and save valuable time.
The Role of a Cover Letter in Your Job Application
A cover letter has a specific purpose in your job application. It is your opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, and work experience to demonstrate how well you would align with the company culture. It serves as a chance for you to make a great first impression on hiring managers, highlighting why you are the ideal candidate for the job.
A cover letter should serve as a preview to what you will say in a job interview. It should speak to the job that you are applying for, the particular organization, and communicate why you are a good fit for the role and why you want the job.
Furthermore, a cover letter complements your resume by providing additional insights into your skills, experience, and achievements. It allows you to go beyond the bullet points of your resume and provide a more personal touch to your application, giving hiring managers a glimpse of your personality and work ethic.
In today's competitive job market, employers continue to require cover letters when they want to know more about a candidate or to weed out the less serious candidates. So, a well-written and tailored cover letter can help job seekers achieve that, making their job application more impactful and increasing your chances of securing an interview.
Debunking Myths: Do Hiring Managers Read Cover Letters?
Are cover letters really worth the effort? Sometimes. Not every job requires a cover letter and not every organization or recruiter will send that cover letter to the hiring managers. But, as a candidate, you don't really know whether the hiring manager will see or read the cover letter. All hiring managers are different and many still want to see those cover letters to determine fit for the role, to gauge your interest, and to answer the questions that they may have about you as a candidate.
There are now customizations available to applicant tracking systems (ATS) where a hiring manager can request that you tell them exactly why you want the job. This field in the job application process goes straight to the hiring manager and it serves as your cover letter where you get to tell the hiring manager exactly what you want them to know. So, in whatever form you submit the cover letter, it can have an impact on your application and it is your first impression on the people that will review your application. Don't underestimate the power of a compelling cover letter!
Elements of a Compelling Cover Letter
Now that the value of a cover letter is clear, it is important to understand the pieces of a cover letter. The standard elements of a cover letter are key to communicating a strong message. Thinking about the pieces is key to simplifying the process of to cover letter. Instead of getting stuck on the hard parts, you can start with the following to start writing the best cover letters faster:
Crafting a Powerful Introduction
Crafting a captivating opening paragraph is crucial as it offers the initial opportunity to create a strong impact. Personalizing the cover letter by addressing the hiring manager directly adds a unique touch. The first line of the cover letter plays a vital role in grabbing the reader's attention from the outset. Understanding the intricacies of the target role is essential for composing a compelling introductory paragraph. An effective introduction should be concise, captivating, and tailored to the specific job opportunity.
Highlighting Your Skills and Experiences
The cover letter should reference details on your resume, but not merely repeat them. Think about the details from your resume as opportunities to illustrate the concepts that you are trying to communicate. This means that showcasing what you have done at other places is a reflection of what you can do again or an example of how you have applied those skills elsewhere. However, you should not simply say what you did before. Instead, you should communicate how those prior experiences make you a strong candidate for the role that you are applying for. This forward-looking approach using your past experiences will grab attention and will ultimately make your interview preparation faster because you will have already thought about what you want to say when you land that job interview.
Showcasing Your Passion for the Company
The point of a cover letter is to tell the hiring manager and others in the hiring process why you want the job and why you are a fit for the role. This can include demonstrating your passion or genuine interest in the specific role or company. Doing so will significantly enhance the impact of your cover letter. This is also the piece that most people get stuck on when writing a cover letter. We'll cover tips to expedite this process below.
But, it can and should start with you looking at the company's website to determine its values, culture, model, customers, and much more. Conveying your understanding of the company’s business and industry is crucial for showcasing your passion. Highlighting your knowledge of the company’s website and recent achievements will further elevate the quality of your cover letter and it does not have to take a ton of time to do. A simple reference to that information or incorporation of relevant phrases or concepts is all that it may take to elevate your cover letter.
Types of Cover Letters You Should Know About
When applying for a job, it's essential to understand the different types of cover letters you can use. Tailoring your cover letter to the specific job application can significantly increase your chances of landing an interview. Here are the types of cover letters that are commonly used and which type you use can depend on the organization, who you know, and the specific opportunity. The four main types of cover letters are:
The Application Cover Letter
The first type of cover letter is used when a specific job is open. This application cover letter is written when you are pursuing a specific job and do not know anyone at the organization. This is the most common type of cover letter.
This type of cover letter is never more than a single page unless the job posting requests more. The application cover letter addresses how you are qualified for the specific job, addresses the particulars of the position and the company, and emphasizes how you are a good fit for the role. This letter should reflect a consistent format and professional tone throughout.
It can be elevated with information from the company's website as suggested by Harvard Business Review. If you are applying to a lot of the same types of roles, many people will use a template that they have built and customize it to each job/company. This tailoring process is important for application cover letters to address specifics of the jobs and organizations that you are pursuing.
The Referral Cover Letter
The second type of cover letter is a referral cover letter. This type of cover letter always acknowledges the mutual contact who facilitated the introduction, demonstrating professionalism and gratitude. Leveraging a referral in your cover letter effectively underscores your keen interest in the job opportunity and highlights shared professional values. In many cases, these referrals will automatically get you an interview for the job if you meet the basic requirements (or are close enough). So, making sure that people know about your referral to the job is key.
The referral cover letter still needs to communicate the basics. You should articulate how your background connects with the organization, your interest in the role, and your strengths. You should also reference the additional information that your contact has shared with you prior to applying.
This type of cover letter should always be used if you know someone at the organization. This is true even if there is a separate field in the application process to reference your referral source or employee referral. Making sure that the person not only gets credit for the referral is key and this duplication will also ensure that your application is pulled to the top of the pile as every company handles these referrals differently.
The Letter of Interest
The third type of letter is a letter of interest. This type of letter is used when a specific job is not available at the organization. The goal of these letters is to express genuine enthusiasm for the company with the hopes of being fit in somewhere. This can be the result of a referral or an attempt to directly engage the hiring managers.
These letters are highly customized to each organization and are most common at the executive level. The goal of these types of cover letters is to communicate what you will bring to the table if you join the team and why you are interested in the work that they do. Although you can build a general starting template for these types of roles, they will require heavy customization to be effective when submitting the letter of interest.
The Value Proposition Letter
The final most common type of cover letter is a value proposition letter. These letters highlight the alignment of your skills with the company’s needs. This means addressing specific soft skills that resonate with the role creates a strong impression. Aligning your professional background with the company’s culture and values establishes a compelling narrative. This value proposition letter is most common with nonprofits and mission-driven organizations to communicate alignment with their core values. They can be used with a specific position or not to show the potential and to start a conversation.
Quick Tips to Write Your Cover Letter Faster
Writing a cover letter for a job can feel overwhelming - particularly now that the value and variety of types is clear. It doesn't have to be and you can do it faster for each position that you pursue. Here are the top tips from our professional resume writers and recruiters to build a compelling cover letter faster:
Create Your Own Templates
The first couple of cover letters can take a lot of time. But, if you build them with the intent of using them as your baseline for different jobs it can help a lot in the bigger picture of your job search. You can do that by creating an application letter specifically tailored to the job types you intend to pursue and emphasizing the details that you want to talk about in those interviews. These details shouldn't vary dramatically for different jobs. This way you can focus only on the items that are specific to the organizations when you hit submit instead of recreating the entire letter every time. By following this approach, you can save time and increase your chances of getting that first job interview.
Focus on What You Want
The cover letter should also focus on the things you want to do going forward and the things that make you stand out. Emphasizing what you want to do next and not just what you have done is key to building an effective cover letter. This will also help you to write the cover letters faster because you are happier talking about these items. Make sure that you also connect what you liked doing with what you want to do if you are chosen for the job that you are applying for. This will make your letter stronger and will help you to stand out.
Emphasize Your Strengths
The cover letter should also focus on your strengths as a candidate. Remember, the point of the cover letter is to explain to the recruiter and hiring manager why you want the job and why you are a good fit for the job. Your strengths for the types of roles that you are pursuing will consistently be things that you will talk about throughout the job search process. So, make sure to communicate them on your cover letter and not to hold off for the interview as that opportunity may never come if you don't put the details on the page.
Limit the Time You Spend & Send What You Have
A compelling cover letter doesn't have to take you all day to write. To make sure that you write the cover letter in less time, intentionally limit yourself to the time that you will spend. If you have followed the prior tips, you should know exactly how much time it will take to write. Prevent yourself from wasting time on a job that may not happen by managing your time in the job application process. Set a timer or otherwise limit yourself to the time that you can spend on the cover letter and stick to it. You will move quicker in the process if you know you can't spend more time on the cover letter than the time limit you set. It will also help you to move on to the next application if you have to stick to that time limit.
Tailoring Your Cover Letter to the Job Description
Read the job description again before you start writing the cover letter. Take those requirements, copy them into your cover letter, and explain how you meet them. Go to the next step and communicate in that letter how you bring additional value to the job or organization with a few additional examples of your strengths. From there, you can write the introduction and closing sentences and that's a strong cover letter. It can be that simple if you want it to be. And, creating a clear message addressing the basics can be one of the most compelling tactics for an application cover letter.
Proofreading and Formatting Best Practices
Take the time to proofread and edit your cover letter. This is key to catching any spelling errors or grammatical mistakes. You can cut down the time on editing if you use many of the free tools already built into Word or Google - including spelling and grammar check. Although this step may take a little more time, it is key to make sure that the cover letter doesn't cost you the job. And, a cover letter with spelling mistakes or poor grammar will do just that - regardless of where you are in your career.
Get Help to Build a Strong Template to Use
Seeking assistance from professionals can greatly improve the quality of your cover letters for job applications. By collaborating with experts like those at The Contingent Plan, you can refine cover letters specifically tailored to customer experience engagement or for effective job search. Utilizing resources and best practices can help craft compelling cover letters for specific job applications. Whether it's your first time applying or you need to strengthen your cover letter game, professional help can guide you through powerful ways to write a great cover letter.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Cover Letter
When crafting your cover letter, avoid common mistakes that could cost you the job. Here are the most common cover letter mistakes and how to avoid them while spending less time writing them in the first place:
Overused Phrases and Redundancies
A generic cover letter is a waste of time. Using basic language that doesn't communicate what you would say in the interview or that would make you stand out isn't worth the time you spend doing it. Instead, use the action verbs and power words from your resume or the job posting to make a strong message. You don't have to recreate the concepts on your cover letter. You simply need to communicate why you want the job and why you are a good fit for it. Do that with stronger, specific words whenever possible to stand out with your cover letter.
Lack of Specificity
Failing to tailor the cover letter to the particular job and company can diminish its impact. Sending the exact same cover letter to every company and every job won't help you. And, in many cases, it will probably hurt your application because people that look at the letter will know that is exactly what you are doing.
Instead, take your cover letter templates and tweak them to the particular job or company. That few extra minutes will help your job application to advance. This is particularly true if you know someone at the organization and you can take a minute to incorporate their first name into the letter. Regardless of whether you know someone at the organization or not, take the time to tweak your cover letter to the particular job or organization to make it stand out.
Stop Overthinking it
Spending too much time looking at the job, the company or the blank screen of your cover letter is the most common mistake that people make with their cover letters. This waste of time won't help you land a new job and can only result in your frustration with the process.
The key to preventing overthinking a cover letter is to write what you can and hit submit. Although an organization may offer an optional cover letter, they don't always read them. And, not every company wants one. So, start with understanding whether you even need a cover letter in the first place before you start spending time on it in the first place. This will help you to stop overthinking what the cover letter should say and simply hit submit when that's what the company wants in the first place.
Avoid Grammatical & Spelling Errors
Catching grammar and spelling errors in your cover letter is key. Not taking the time to turn on the free tools to catch these mistakes will be noticed by the people reviewing your cover letters and it will cost you the job. In turn, you will spend more time writing cover letters only to lose out on the opportunities. Avoid this common mistake by checking your cover letters for mistakes and by using the tools that exist in your system to fix them before you hit submit. Remember, this is your chance to make a strong first impression.
Using AI Incorrectly
To save time, many people are using artificial intelligence (AI) tools to write cover letters for them. The problem is that they don't know what to tell the AI system to write in the first place or they aren't reading what the AI generates before they hit submit. This results in inaccurate and poorly crafted cover letters that will ultimately cost the person the job. And, there are many tools out there right now used by employers to detect AI.
Regardless, AI can be a powerful tool, but it cannot be the only tool in your job search. Instead, you need to take the time to personalize your cover letter beyond what AI can generate, ensuring it reflects your professional background. You also need to review and edit your cover letters before submitting them to make sure that they communicate what you want to tell the hiring manager in the interview. By doing so, you can create a great cover letter that stands out.
Forgetting Your Audience
When crafting a cover letter, it's crucial to extensively research the company and hiring manager. Tailoring your cover letter to address the company's needs and showcasing how your experience aligns with its culture is paramount. Personalizing your cover letter creates a strong first impression. By ensuring that your cover letter demonstrates your understanding of the company's values, you can create a powerful way to connect with the hiring manager. Research the name of the hiring manager for each position to show that you have put thought and effort into your application. You can often find this information within the job listing, on the company website, or by calling their office and asking.
Does the Length of a Cover Letter Affect Its Effectiveness?
The effectiveness of a cover letter is not solely dependent on its length. Instead, it should be concise, tailored to the job application, and provide key information promptly. Find the right balance between brevity and completeness to capture the hiring manager's attention. Consider the employer's guidelines for length.
In conclusion, a compelling cover letter is an essential component of your job application. It allows you to showcase your skills, experiences, and passion for the company, making a strong impression on hiring managers. Despite common myths, cover letters are indeed read by employers and can greatly influence their decision-making process. To write a compelling cover letter faster, build your own templates to make the customization process faster, focus on what you want, emphasize your strengths, and tailor your letter to the job description. Additionally, proofread and format your cover letter carefully, avoiding overused phrases, lack of specificity, and grammatical errors. Remember to keep your audience in mind and make sure that you are limiting the amount of time that you spend on each application.
Feel overwhelmed? Or, simply don't have the time to write cover letters? Our team of professional cover letter writers would be happy to help. Get started now.