A well-written cover letter focuses on the employer.
Perhaps you’ve read the title of this post, and in your mind, you’ve just heard the high-pitched squealing that in-motion tires make when the driver abruptly hits the brakes (errrrrrrrrrrrrp!), and you’re thinking: Um, excuse me…What? How could a cover letter I’m writing not be about me? I’m writing about myself to try and get an interview for a job that I want. In fact, it feels like it’s entirely about me. Relax. Of course, your cover letters are about you. But, don’t let the fact that cover letters are a space to discuss your qualifications distract from the reality that you should be targeting your writing to the companies where you are applying for jobs. Truly effective cover letters are all about the employer. You need to make employers feel as if you are speaking directly to them and their needs.
Truly effective cover letters are all about the employer. You need to make employers feel as if you are speaking directly to them and their needs.
Think about it: If you are writing a cover letter, then undoubtedly you are responding to a job post or a call for applications. Right away, you know something about companies that put out hiring notices: They have a problem. If a company is putting out a job post, then in some fashion or another the company is understaffed, and as a result, it can’t function optimally. This may not feel like a powerful piece of information to have, but it is.
These companies are asking interested and qualified candidates like you to complete their staff. All you have to do is make sure that your writing speaks directly to the ways in which you are the right addition to the team. This may seem a little obvious, but many cover letters fail to bridge the connection between the candidate’s qualifications and how those qualifications are a match for what the employer needs. Often, candidates simply list their qualifications and hope or assume that the reader will recognize the candidate’s suitability for the role. Yikes! You never want your reader to have to work to understand you. If you are not writing very intentionally to the employer, you increase the likelihood that you make this mistake.
To write a strong letter, you need to be organized when you set out to craft the language, and you need to be in the right frame of mind. You need to feel confident about the value you would bring to the role, and you need to be able to determine from your knowledge of the industry and what’s outlined in the job description the items that are the most essential for you to address in the letter.
Want to know how I'd recommend strategizing a cover letter? Check out the events page for details on upcoming dates for my How to Write an Effective Cover Letter seminar, which takes place at the Kenton County Library in Erlanger, Kentucky. Can't make it to the seminar? Reach out to me for a consultation.