We all dread it: THE REQUIRED COVERLETTER. You are happily plotting along, applying for a job, then you see the red “REQUIRED” asterisk next to a small box prompting you to browse your files for a cover letter. Raise your hand if you automatically close your laptop to “finish later,” secretly knowing you will never write that cover letter, let alone submit the whole application. Wow. That is a lot of hands. Keep reading to save yourself from this deadly cycle.
Create a template
The key to tackling cover letters is a catch-all template! Just like your resume, you should have a base that you use for almost all job applications. Each time you apply for a job, make a copy of this template and tweak it to fit well with the job you are applying for. This way, you have something to pull quickly, accompanied by only minimal intimidation. Cover letters are quite a bit easier to complete when you already have a few paragraphs written for them.
Bonus Pro Tip: DO NOT accidentally attach your template document with “[INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE]” or “[SAY GOOD THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF HERE]” included in the text. Yours Truly certainly has not done this before, nor does she speak from experience. It just seems like it may be bad idea and will probably not get you an interview. Again, not speaking from experience. At all. It may be helpful to include a lovely bold, “TEMPLATE ONLY” in the title of your template document to avoid this mistake.
Instead of focusing on how great you think their company is and how you would fit into their team, focus on your strengths! Show them what you bring to the table. Choose two or three significant strengths to focus on and write a short paragraph on each. With each separate application, you can add a sentence or two about why each strength can benefit their company or fit with their mission. The meat of your paragraphs will remain the same across applications, but individual cover letters will have little blurbs, applying your skills to each specific company.
Share why you are applying
Start and finish your cover letter by letting the company know (and reminding them) why you are applying for this position at their company. This is the time to mention that you have always dreamed of working there, strongly believe in the company’s mission, or have a passion for the work they do (only if these statements are true, of course). This can be a few sentences sandwiching your strengths paragraphs.
Sign off with a simple “I am looking forward to hearing from you!”-type statement and your name/contact information. With a simple template, cover letters will be a BREEZE. Apply for those jobs, feeling slightly less intimidated! You’ve got this!