It is challenging to write an effective cover letter that will help to secure an interview with potential employers. Cover letters can seem intimidating, especially when an applicant doesn’t yet have experience directly related to the position in which they are interested. Remember, the goal of your cover letter is to draw the attention of the hiring manager. With that goal in mind, we’ve put together some of the basics of cover letter writing to show you how to create a strong submission even without industry experience.
The Basics of Cover Letter Writing
Yes, you do need a cover letter! A cover letter exists to showcase your skills to your potential employer in a way that a resume cannot, and it also gives them a better understanding of how well you’ll fit into their company culture. The simple act of providing a cover letter with your application demonstrates that you’re serious about the position, and not looking to cut corners.
It is important to present your skills in a personal way. Hiring managers can tell when they receive a ‘cookie-cutter’ cover letter that is clearly being reused for position after position. Reusing a cover letter sends the message that you’re not serious about the position, that you cut corners, and that you don’t want to put the time into your job search—which is not an ideal first impression. Instead, write a personal, unique cover letter that shows the employer you have skills that will be valuable in the role.
What Do You Put in a Cover Letter?
This is a question our Employment Consultants receive frequently, and for good reason. There’s no single answer. It depends on the company, the position, your experience, and your aspirations.
Use your cover letter as an opportunity to expand on a point in your resume that you feel is important to the position. You could write about why you want to work for the company and why you think you’d be a good fit. Your cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself to your prospective employer. Use this opportunity to tell them who you are, what you bring to the table, and what separates you from other applicants.
Writing a Cover Letter Without Relevant Experience
Cover letter writing is daunting when you’re seeking out your first position in a new field, and you don’t have direct experience to showcase. However, it’s important to realize that all experience is only as relevant as you make it.
If you’re applying to a new position and you’ve never held that position before, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have no relevant experience; it just means that you need to prove to your potential employer why the experience that you do have is, in fact, relevant. Start by asking yourself, what skills would make you a good fit for this role? Pay attention to the skills that the organization is looking for in the job posting: attention to detail, time management, organization, and communication skills are probably at the top of the list for the hiring manager. Chances are, even if you’ve never held the title of the role you are applying for, you have some experience (in a professional, volunteer, or even personal context) that you can use to showcase how you have the skillset they’re looking for by highlighting those skills from previous experience. If you don’t have industry-specific experience, you can still focus on relevant experience; this means focusing in on the skills outlined in the job description. For example, you may be looking at a sales position, but you’ve never been a sales representative before.
Think about the skills needed to be a successful sales professional: active listening, client engagement, product knowledge, presentation skills, and so on. Your cover letter can outline how you have used these skills in the past and how you will be successful in the role because of them. Making the distinction between industry-specific and skillset-relevant experience is a great way to show employers that you understand what’s expected of you in the position and that you have connected it to your relevant experience. Making these connections also demonstrates that you can work around a problem and arrive at a strong solution without being deterred.
Write each cover letter to suit the position and always include a cover letter with your application. You’ll be surprised how effective these small steps can be! Programming at ACCES will help you with a whole range of job search strategies including resumes, cover letters, networking, business communications, industry-recognized training, and more. Call or visit an ACCES location today!