So you’re applying for a job and it asks for a cover letter. You might be tempted just to jot down a few paragraphs, or copy a template, and quickly attach it to your application. I mean, it’s not like anyone reads cover letters right? Well, that’s completely wrong.
For a lot of companies, especially well-established ones like Blizzard, cover letters can be one of the most important parts of your application. They’re a chance to showcase your personality beyond just a cookie cutter resume and really sell yourself to the recruiter.
Although there are tons of basic templates out there, how do you write a good cover letter that helps you stand out? Let’s discuss what makes up a cover letter and how you can write one.
How to Start Your Cover Letter
Unlike what most students assume, cover letters shouldn't be a regurgitated resume. Resumes rely on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to search for keywords, so writing a resume is much more about filling the page with terms that these bots are looking for. If you think of resumes as an answer to a math question, then cover letters are the proof of how you got to it.
The biggest benefit that comes from writing a cover letter is the ability to explain the "why". Out of all the jobs out there, why are you choosing this one? Maybe this is your dream job, or this role is just something you stumbled upon on LinkedIn. Nevertheless, it's important to show a connection. Do your research prior to writing and see what parts of the role can connect to parts of your life. Whether it’s personal history or just being familiar with the brand, showing that personal touch helps the recruiter remember and distinguish yourself from all the other applicants.
While you are writing, try to reflect back on the strategies you were taught in English class. Create a unique hook that attracts the reader, and try to show, not tell, how you have certain skills. If you mention how you worked at a lab previously, you don't need to outright say that you have research skills because the recruiter can figure that out.
What to Include in Your Cover Letter
Although resumes have a generally similar structure, cover letters don't, which can make it hard for students to decide what to include. However, there are a few basic things you can add to elevate your letter. If your first paragraph is the introduction to you as a person, then the next few paragraphs should tie that into the actual role. Cover letters aren't a one-size-fits-all concept. Each letter you write should be customized to each role you apply for.
For each cover letter you write, try to tie in 2-3 of the top job description bullet points. If a company is looking for someone to do tasks listed on the job description, that means they're having a problem doing it now. What can you bring to the table that can help solve their issues?
For example, if you're applying to a sales position and the top requirement is "A fast learner," that means that they need someone who can get quickly up to speed on sales leads. The company might be struggling with onboarding new recruits or switching people from different departments, so show how you can personally overcome those problems.
With every bullet point you mention, make sure to back up your skills with stats. It's one thing to say that you helped to speed up production, but if you mention it was by 30%, hiring managers have a quantifiable characteristic to base your qualifications off. Try to also mention how you got these skills and the process you usually take to get to a solution. Companies like Google are excited to learn about the thought process during job applications, so make sure to detail it accurately.
Bringing it Together
Of course, including all this information in your cover letter might seem like a complicated task, so we have provided a writing guideline. Although the best cover letters can't be a 1-to-1 copy of a template, having a prewritten structure can allow the creative juices to start flowing.
Dear [name of recruiter/hiring manager],
[Give a personal introduction with a strong hook]. This is why I am applying for [role]. With my [summary of experience] and [personal passion], I will be able to use my skills in [say main skill needed in job] to [solve a problem the company might be having].
Previously, I've had experience with [Job description bullet point] at [Prior experience]. Here I was able to [Detail what you did at your previous experience, tools you used, processes you led, etc, all with proof].
I've also had the opportunity to [Other job description bullet point] at [other experience]. Through this experience, I was able to [repeat the process you did for paragraph two].
Through the years, I was able to [Show personal investment and passion in the industry]. Because of this, I believe my [key skills you want to promote] can help this company [solve another issue they might have]. I appreciate your consideration for [role] and I look forward to speaking with you soon.
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