Does your cover letter even get read any more? Is that what you’re thinking? If so, you’re not alone. I’m happy to tell you that yes, they do get read and they matter. According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, 37 percent of recruiters say cover letters matter.
In a survey by my colleague Thomas Powner at Career Thinker Inc. 49 percent of recruiters stated they read the cover letter after the resume and 53 percent said it did impact their decision on requesting a phone interview. Best of all, 59 percent said a great cover letter can boost a marginal resume.
When you write an E.P.I.C. cover letter — Employer-focused, Promotional, Interesting and includes a Call to Action — your phone will be ringing with calls for interviews. Let’s do a deep dive into each of these components.
In job search it’s not what the employer can do for you, but what you can do for the employer. The first step in writing an E.P.I.C. cover letter is to capture the reader’s attention by focusing on them.
One way to do this is to write an introduction that focuses on the employer’s needs.
Take the reader to their ideal world
Imagine if you could have a Director of Marketing on your team who brings integrated marketing campaigns to life and knows how to leverage various media platforms to obtain the best results. What if that person also understands how to use data to make strategic decisions and create actionable marketing plans? Now take a look at the enclosed resume to see that person is applying for the Director of Marketing position at Acme Technology.
Show your shared vision or mission
Like Acme’s unrelenting focus on client service, I take a tenacious approach in leading companies through turnaround and growth strategies during periods of both declining revenues and rapid growth. Now, I would like to play a critical role in ensuring Acme’s values and culture are maintained during your next period of growth as Wealth Management Chief Administrative Officer.
You’ve probably heard advice like this before, but it’s really important to customize your letter for each organization you apply to. I am not just talking about swapping out a name of an organization. If the job posting asks certain questions, be sure you answer them in your letter. If there are specific attributes listed, demonstrate how you have those attributes.
Look at this snippet from a job description at Aha! for a Sr. Digital Marketing Manager: Has a “get it done” attitude and a background of delivering superb work again and again.
Here is how a letter could be customized for this description: When I was a Digital Marketing Manager at Acme, I was constantly assigned special projects. This was because my director knew she could count on me to problem solve and get things done.
Another avenue for customizing your letter is to state why you want to work for the company. Don’t be afraid to say how you’ve been a customer and your experience inspired you to apply. Think about companies with strong brands like Trader Joes or Apple. You better make sure your letter talks about how you look good in Hawaiian shirts or crave innovation if you’re applying to either of these companies.
Depending how badly you want to work for a certain organization, the more effort you put into your whole application, the better. Take a look at what Nina Mufleh did to land an interview at Airbnb.
Besides being focused on your potential employer, it’s important to show why you’re a great fit for the position. This is where being promotional comes in.