Francheska Pondevida, VP of Public Relations
C+C ("all about the good"), a social marketing and public relations agency in Seattle, joined our students last April 12 to explain one of the most common problem in job applications: cover letter writing and content.
What makes for a good cover letter is not a simple question. A straight-up answer would be: it depends. When you're working for a tech company versus a marketing or public relations agency, there can be distinct differences between how your cover letter should look like and what it should include. Many may assume that a cover letter may not necessarily include humor and this is not entirely true. Some cover letters are great and creative story pieces that allows some applicants to stand out more than others.
There are many strategies to write cover letters, guidelines that reputable people offer, but the truth is: there is no single way, but there can be tons of effective ways.
C+C shared with us 4 powerful tips on how to write an effective cover letter. Not everything is applicable in every scenario for everyone, but this is generally helpful:
1. Follow Directions -- brainstorm, plan, organize ideas, and when you have written down your content, revise for any technical errors. Nobody would like to read a cover letter that is structurally difficult to follow and with sentences that are hard to understand.
2. Match tone -- this is just one of the many ways you can use this step to your advantage: a hint of creativity may be helpful for some jobs that require some social media skills, public relations, and sales/marketing. You can give yourself an edge if you know about the character of the company and their products and possibly look into their philosophy, messages, their audiences, and communities. In turn, challenge yourself to tell what you can bring to them through incorporating creative techniques such as humor, storytelling, learning from an experience, etc. It is important to show HOW and not just WHAT processes you employed in the life circumstances that you share.
3. Study up -- in relation to step 2, a major mistake that people don't do is that they don't research their company and this can actually be bad for the applicant. Be prepared not just in interviews but also find a way to vocalize through your cover letter what they can add to the company by hiring you. Think, what can they possibly miss out on if they don't hire you? Get them excited to have you as a potential employee! Show specificity in passion. The reason companies provide job description is for you to already figure out that they know the position you are applying for, now what do you know about them and what can you offer that others may not?
4. Make a connection -- a cover letter is not a reinstatement of your resume and if you have your skills already in your resume, why bother to include them in your cover letter? With the many applications human resources go through each day, it can be a waste of time to read 2 versions of a resume. Your cover letter or in lay man's term "a motivation letter" is what will set you apart from other candidates. It is an opportunity to shine and showcase your character. An idea would be providing strong examples regarding your work ethic and how you can add ideas their projects.
These tips are not set on stone and can vary depending on fields of interest. However, writing a cover letter requires rigorous discipline and patience. If you apply to a lot of jobs and overlook the important processes that will make for a successful cover letter, like researching your company's projects, you might miss out on an opportunity. Instead of writing general cover letters, take your time to sit down, plan, and focus one company at a time. It will increase your chances, save you energy, and who knows, you will not be discouraged by low response turnout, when you know you had their best interests in mind written thoroughly.