Here, careers expert Jan Plessner offers advice on how to write a cover letter that will land you the job. Scroll to the bottom to see this month’s newest and hottest job listings. Sign up for the monthly WRN newsletter here to be the first to learn about the latest Hot Jobs!
Cover Letter Must Have’s
Do a Google search for cover letters and you’ll find a million entries. Asking someone about cover letters is like asking someone about the best motorcycle on the market today. There are so many ideas and opinions. Cover letters can be extremely effective, and for some roles, required. The key is to create an exceptional cover letter.
Below are ten insights to consider for your next cover letter adventure.
The “To Do’s”
1. Survey Says The first thing you need to know is that there is no perfect template. It isn’t one size fits all. Each situation is unique and it is up to you to decide whether or not to include a cover letter with a resume.
2. Go Big or Go Home If you are not open to creating a custom and personalized cover letter tailored to the company, its products, or its services, then stop reading now. Creating a one-off document for the hiring manager that references the position is critical to the whole process. No matter how perfect you are for a particular role, first impressions are very important. This company may be your next employer, and work family, so make it count. It may be the reason they call you for the role.
3. Easy Peasy It is easier than you think to create an impactful cover letter. Most people totally overthink it. A cover letter does not need to be a multi-page manifesto. It should not be more than a page unless you are sharing the formula for world peace or directions to buried treasure. I’ve read cover letters that blow me away that are 1.25 pages long and others that are three short paragraphs. What matters most is that this presentation is in your words. The messages should be your original thoughts and ideas, with a dash of creativity for good measure. Your best cover letter will give the reader a chance to get to know you, and that means sharing your authentic self with a stranger.
4. The Must Haves Always include your contact information (name, mobile number, email, city and state) and the appropriate salutation (props if you get the hiring managers name). Also, include a reference to your most important qualifications and/or applicable and transferable experience. Just like those first impressions, make sure you close with a bang. Your closing should motivate, inspire, entertain and/or educate the reader. Throw your real signature on the letter to make it authentic.
The “Do Not’s”
5. Formats Make sure you follow submission directions and use a cover letter format that feels right for you. Search “cover letter format” in Google and pick one that represents you best. But seriously, don’t overthink it. What you say is much more important than which font and font color you use.
#1 Mistake: Don’t use the same letter for every application.
#2 Mistake: Don’t write your letter without first researching the company and the position.
#3 Mistake: Don’t write your letter without first checking your LinkedIn network for first or second degree connections who work at this company or know someone who does.
#4 Mistake: Don’t write about anything irrelevant to the position. Real estate on your cover letter should be cherished. Use it sparingly. The reader’s attention span may only be 10 to 30 seconds per cover letter. Hook them early and avoid wasting space.
6. “I Would be a Valuable Asset to Your Team” Please, please, please do not use overused cliches. Don’t use phrases like “I am a hard worker,” “I am perfect for this position,” or “To whom it may concern.”
7. Rise Above the Rest Here’s the challenge. You need to craft something unique without saying something whacky or inappropriate. When 5 or 25 or 150 or 500 candidates are all vying for the same role, it’s critical that your cover letter stands out. In the cover letter I submitted to Kawasaki’s hiring manager, I explained how I was absolutely crazy about riding my personal watercraft. I remember typing that “I was hitting the local lakes every weekend on my 440 stand-up ‘D.I.T.H.’ (Dead in the Hole) and ‘Hot Lips,’ my bright red 550.” I specifically remember including that while cruising around the lake, I would “scream sing my favorite songs.” I’m pretty sure nobody else told that story.
8. Bridge the Gap One of the most important functions of a cover letter is to connect the dots between your resume and the job requirements. We often receive resumes that seem to be vacant of things like proper training or required job experience. Use your cover letter to include transferable personal experience, applicable training courses and other relevant experience.
9. Increase Your Visibility If you are submitting your resume into a system that restricts the number of documents attached, put your cover letter on page one and references on page two. Also, increase your visibility by connecting with the HR Manager on LinkedIn. Once they accept your connection invite send a cover letter and resume to them directly.
10. Meat on the Bones If the story you tell doesn’t make it obvious that you are the best candidate without saying “I am the best candidate,” then keep crafting your cover letter.
A Real World Example
One of our recently-placed candidates created a cover letter that introduced herself on page one. Then on page two, she said, “If I was listed on Yelp, my reviews would be worth a visit.” She then took some of her actual LinkedIn “endorsements” and put them into a Yelp Review format with yellow stars. It was clever, humorous, entertaining, and unique. I went back and looked at the letter and realized she only awarded herself four stars for every review. I think it was smart NOT to give herself five. To me that communicates “I’m really good, but there is always room for improvement.”
In my 8+ years of recruiting, this “Yelp Review” themed cover letter was the first of its kind and landed on my top #3 list for Best Kick-ass Cover Letters of all time.
This Month’s Hot Jobs!
Marketing and Events Manager, Harley-Davidson Dealership ($40,000 – $60,000)
East Coast USA
Our thriving Harley-Davidson dealership client in the Eastern USA is looking for a Marketing and Events professional, who is a motorcycle enthusiast. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of two years’ experience in the following areas: video production, social media, media relations, community service, promotions and special events. Benefits including relocation assistance being offered. Contact Jan@womenridersnow.com for more information.
Entry-Level Motorcycle/Powersports Technician ($28,000 – $45,000)
Our expanding motorcycle and powersports dealership group in the SE USA is looking for passionate entry-level powersports technicians with minimal experience. The ideal candidate has attended MMI or a similar technician trade school and a minimum of 6 months hands-on technician experience. Contact Jan@womenridersnow.com for more information.
Parts/Chrome Consultant, Harley-Davidson Dealership ($30,000 – $50,000)
This position requires excellent customer service skills and knowledge of factory and aftermarket accessories, parts, upgrades, etc. The ideal candidate enjoys working with other motorcycle enthusiasts. You will need to meet with customers during and after their motorcycle purchase to customize their bike to fit their style and coordinate the installation of accessories with our service department. Contact Jan@womenridersnow.com for more information.