As if searching for a job isn’t difficult enough, the most dreaded part of an application after writing a resume is writing the perfect cover letter. While it can be tedious, writing the perfect cover letter is also a very overlooked opportunity to show your prospective employer why you are perfect for a position.
If you’re a recent graduate, you may not have much real life work experience for the position you are applying for. The perfect cover letter gives you the opportunity to explain your passion for the industry in question and to further detail some of the experience that you may not have included in your resume. For instance, I volunteered at SAG Bookpals where I read to underprivileged children in South Central Los Angeles and recently applied for a position with a church where I would be overseeing the youth program. It would behoove me to mention this experience in my cover letter. Volunteer work shows employers that you have passion and compassion. Steer clear of including experience that is not relevant to the position you are applying for. If you are applying for an internship at the William Morris Agency where you will be working in the mail room, for example, I wouldn’t mention my aspirations of being a filmmaker and my dreams of taking over Hollywood. I would instead stick to soft skills like strong attention to detail and my organizational ability evidenced in my stamp collection which consists of over 2,000 rare stamps that are all in mint condition—if you’re that way inclined!
While some HR managers may not be impressed with volunteer work or your hobbies they may be looking for evidence that you can do the job at hand. If the job requires writing, then mention your writing ability. Maybe this is the time to mention that you wrote for the school paper or that you published an award-winning article that was later picked up by a national publication. If the job requires handling social media, mention that you are familiar with Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook.
Be honest when writing the perfect cover letter. You have to know yourself and what attributes that you have that would be good for the position to benefit both you and your future employer. Spending time on a job application is a time to really take into account if you’re the right fit for a position. Some places are not the right fit for you and that is an inevitability. I recently applied for a position and interviewed but the employees seemed depressed and stressed out. While another position I applied for in the same field the employees were happy and upbeat and seemed to enjoy working for the company. These are all important factors to think about. Research the company and use the cover letter to discuss of what kind of environment you would like to work in.
The most important thing that I think that makes a successful cover letter is that it shows your personality and what you can bring to the position you are applying for. So often when applying for a job, we recount our qualifications and experiences but leave the most important part out of the letter: This is who you are and what separates you from the other candidates for the position.
Don’t get weighed down by the formality of the job process that you leave any hint of you out of your cover letter. If you want to find the perfect job, you’re not going to get it pretending to be someone else. This is why so many adults are miserable at the jobs they have. Find your passion.
Ask for help
If you need assistance writing a cover letter, visit your career center at school for some guidance. Your local public library may have some resources that can demonstrate how to write the perfect cover letter. Remember that practice makes perfect. I look at it as something that could possibly sway you being hired for a position but not the end all and be all. Finding a job is about numbers. The more positions you apply for, the more likely you’re going to get an interview—so get writing that perfect cover letter!