If you’re breaking a sweat all day and losing sleep all night over a cover letter that you haven’t even written yet, you’re not alone. According to survey results, candidates at all levels of experience tend to rank the cover letter writing process as the “most” or “second most” dreaded aspect of the standard job search. Cover letters are considered difficult, tedious, and discouraging, and the stakes of this challenge are often overestimated; most applicants believe that the cover letter is the first (and sometimes only) aspect of the application that employers will actually review. If that first sentence seems clunky, boring, cliché, or foolish, it’s game over.If this sums up your feelings about your own cover letter, here are a few tips that can help you get past this hurdle.
1. Just do it.
The first step to the cover letter writing process (or any writing process) is usually the same: stop over thinking and just start typing. It’s easier to edit and change words that are already written than it is to stare down a blank page, so get moving. Stop thinking about all the things that can go wrong and flip your mental switch from contemplation to action. Once you have a few sentences on the page, no matter how messy they may seem at first, you’ll be in business.
2. Create a beginning, middle and end.
All complete messages have three components: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Cover letters are no exception. Your first three sentences should explain what you want and what you have to offer in the simplest terms (For example, “I’m an experienced marketing pro and I’d like to apply for the position of Associate Accounts Manager that your company posted on SuperJobs.com”). The second paragraph should explain why you’re perfect for this role. The third paragraph should help your readers make their next move—Ideally, calling you in for an interview. Use this simple road map to make a complex process easier to tackle.
3. Use your resume as your guide.
Don’t just rehash and restate the claims of your resume in your cover letter, since this is redundant and can represent a missed opportunity. But do use your resume to select the most important details from you background. Highlight these details in your message, and use them to make a simple case: Because of these awards, accomplishments, and personal traits, you have something to bring to this company that no other candidate can offer.
4. Be cool.
In terms of tone and style, keep your cover letter relaxed, friendly, and professional. Present your sentences the way you intend to present yourself during your in-person interview. For guidance, re-read the job post carefully and visit the website before you start to edit, and imagine speaking to the people who wrote this post and who stand behind this website. Try to envision the culture of this workplace, and direct your message to that specific audience.
**Don’t let your fear of the written sentence hold you back. Cover letters are easy! They’re short, simple messages that encourage your readers to do one thing: Call you up and arrange a meeting with you in person. Travel down this difficult road one step at a time, and turn to MyPerfectResume for tools and support that can help you make the journey.