How To: Cover Letters

You followed our tips on how to write a killer resume with effective formatting, or maybe even utilized our service to get the most out of your accomplishments. Now what? You need a killer cover letter to really seal a great first impression. This, like your resume, has some gray area on how it looks, and how it varies based on the position you’re applying for. No need to worry - cover letters are fairly simple, and in this article, we will go over specifically what you need to do in order to get that recruiter to read your resume.

Let’s go over some of the most important tips for writing a cover letter. First of all, your cover letter should never be over one page. The entire purpose of this document is to summarize really who you are and some of your key accomplishments, and through that, to get your recruiter to read your resume. Think of it as a trailer to a movie - it’s just a taste of the vital information in your resume and things that may be discussed in an interview. A couple things you must include are:

Your name and contact information
• Make sure your email is something formal, rather than ilovekittens1234@gmail.com.
• Be sure that you pick up the phone for the number you put down, because they’ll most likely end up calling you, either to inform you on how the recruiting went or to get more information.

Their name and contact information
• Insert the specific recruiters information - this should be available online, snoop around!

The job you’re applying for
• Just add a short description about the position - you can acquire this information through the application process.

A summary about yourself
• Summarize what’s in your resume - what are the big hitters?

With these aspects in mind, consider optimizing each section. Space really matters on professional documents, and when trying to get a high-competition position, you want to make the most of what you have. Recruiters don’t want a cookie-cutter cover letter, so here’s a quick guide on how to stick out among the competition:

Be Personal

You want to research who is going to read your resume and the company, along with the position you’re applying for. You want to be as specific as possible - you should address the recruiter/HR representative directly, rather than “To whom it may concern,” and should be formal, using Mr. or Ms. + their last name. If you have the chance to speak to someone over the phone about the job, ask questions that can get you information on what to put on your cover letter, such as:

• What’s an ideal candidate for this job like?
• What will this job specifically entail?
• What skills are required/recommended for this position?
• Is there a position description for this job?

Basically, the key for the cover letter is to optimize your information and make your experience appeal as much as possible to the recruiter/company. Like in your resume, be concise in your summary. Use powerful verbs and adjectives to describe your experience and highlight key metrics in your summary - for example, if you’re writing to a tech company, write something along the lines of:

In the 8th grade, I experienced my first dose of writing code through Codecademy. Learning Java, Python, and HTML, I was writing websites and applications by my sophomore year in high school. Over two summers, I worked on a start-up project in my area that seeked to assist grade-school students and high-schoolers find tutors near them and connect with them digitally. In this position, I wrote code that matched a tutor with a student using the language Swift in iOS.

This little blurb could be about half or three-fourths of your summary. Obviously this is geared toward more of a younger adult since they’re only highlighting their experience as a teenager, but here, the subject is concise and describes a meaningful project that gave them a lot of experience, which is something recruiters definitely want to see. There shouldn’t be much beating around the bush here - tell them what they need to hear and nothing more.

Talk to Them, Not at Them

Think about the purpose of the cover letter highlighted earlier in this article - “The entire purpose of this document is to summarize really who you are and some of your key accomplishments, and through that, to get your recruiter to read your resume.” Impressing a recruiter, who reads thousands of resumes, isn’t easy, and having not only a good-looking, but a well-written cover letter is one way you can stick out. You can do this by using industry lingo - you don’t necessarily need to know the terms inside out, but you shouldn’t write in general terms like “Typed code for Google,” rather in terms that they would know, like “compiled and created code in C# and C++ to sort and distribute data.”

You don’t have much space to fill in fluff or try to make yourself sound better than you actually are - there’s no point in doing this because your resume is the tell-all document. Remember that you’re just getting the company to get a quick snapshot of who you are and what you’ve done - all the details will be sorted in your resume if they choose to read it. Just to reiterate, speak their language - not in layman's terms - because they’re likely not to hire someone who clearly doesn’t know what they’re doing right off the bat.

Convince Them to Read Your Resume

Clearly answer the questions:
• Why am I considered a great candidate for this position?
• How will I contribute to the organization this position is a part of?

If you did this, great! If not, go back and make sure you answer it in the summary, especially in your specific experiences. Once you feel that you’re ready to clip the resume you worked oh-so-hard on to the back, write a call to action at the bottom. After reading your entire cover letter, the recruiter needs a way to contact you, so include your contact information and what you’re looking for - either an interview in person or over the phone, or just more information about the opportunities present. If they make it this far in the cover letter, they’ll most likely read your resume, but having a good closing statement could secure an interview for you.

Writing a cover letter may just seem like a repeat of your resume, which it totally is. A resume is a summary of your work experience, and a cover letter is a summary of your resume. It seems way too repetitive, but just stick with it and follow these instructions, and with the right application and experience your chances are high to receive at least an interview. If you’re still unsure about your resume or cover letter, check out our other tips on writing both documents, even in specific industries, as well as our resume writing service.

We are Backlight - a company at the crossroads of technology and convenience - a resume writing service that incorporates artificial intelligence alongside resume and HR experts to generate impactful professional documents. We try our best to be affordable, transparent, and reliable, so we believe that if you’re reading this article, Backlight is the right place for you. Check out the rest of our site - we hope we can help illuminate your accomplishments.