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Great cover letters get interviews

This is part of a series of columns written by Lutherwood staff offering job-search tips and advice. Lutherwood is a local agency that offers employment support as well as a range of other services that are accessed by more than 22,500 people annually in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.

With many other job-seekers applying for postings, you need a well-written cover letter to set you apart and increase your chances of landing an interview.

While nothing turns off a potential employer like a typo or poor grammar, those are basic tips. Take your cover letter to the next level and make it stand out by including information about the company and position.

Researching the company and gathering ideas before you begin writing will save you time in the long run and make your letter stand out.

Review the company’s vision and mission statements and look at other useful information on their website and social media. Read news articles on the company and others within the industry to learn more about it, its competition and current industry trends.

The most reliable information about a company often comes from within. Speak with someone who works at the organization to learn about the company, their culture and how you might fit.

Be sure not to overlook one of the most obvious sources of information — the job posting.

Zero in on key words, such as skills or qualifications the company is seeking in an ideal candidate, and plan to include these in the body of your cover letter to show that you are the perfect fit.

Once you have researched the company, it is time to begin your letter. Keep in mind that hiring managers may initially spend only a few seconds looking at your cover letter. That’s why your opening line has to catch their attention and inspire them to read on.

Rather than beginning with a standard opening like, “I am applying for such-and-such position, as posted on your website,” consider starting with:

• An inspiring quote that ties into the company’s values, mission or vision;

• An interesting fact about the industry, demonstrating your relevant knowledge and understanding of the field;

• A startling statistic related to the industry;

• A question regarding the company’s needs, then proceed to answer the question throughout your letter.

No matter how you start your letter, make sure the introductory paragraph demonstrates that you have researched the company and understand their goals, needs and challenges. You can then address how you will add value to the company by addressing their specific needs.

Your last paragraph should include a call to action. If you are hoping for an interview, be direct and request one.

If you want to show even more initiative, consider letting the hiring manager know how and when you will be following up with them rather than waiting for them to contact you.

As always, maintain a polite and professional tone and thank them for their time.

• • •

Jessica McQuistin is an Employment Advisor at Lutherwood’s Cambridge office and helps clients market themselves effectively.

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