Cover Letters should be short, meaningful and additive to your resume data, not duplicative. Here is a quick formula so you don’t get stuck on creating cover letters:
- copy the entire job description into a word document.
- rank each bullet in their job description using a 1, 2, 3*
- write a response to each bullet that is ranked with a 1 (and maybe the 2s as well if you don’t have many 1s.)
- work from your resume so you don’t forget relevant experiences.
- Start your cover letter with a strong statement about you and your strengths. Follow with a few key things you know and like about the job and or the company.
- use your written responses as the second, and main, paragraph of your cover letter – you will likely need to edit them to make them into shorter phrases so your cover letter stays short and on point.
- only edit the whole cover letter after you insert all the phrases.
- word-smithing as you go takes a lot of time so edit the transition words and filler at the very end of your drafting process so you don’t bog down with the minutiae.
- Finish with a good selling statement as to why you are great for this job and how you can hit the ground running.
*1=I definitely have done exactly that. 2=I have done something similar. 3=I haven’t but I could probably learn it.
According to a recent article by Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, a writer at Grammarly, managing the way you include your LinkedIn information is important. The article goes on to explain:
“Include your LinkedIn profile URL at the top of the resume next to your contact information. If you’re using a networking resume and not applying via an applicant tracking system (ATS), hyperlink the URL so the hiring manager can go right to your profile. If you’re creating an ATS-optimized resume you may not want to hyperlink the profile URL because it will cause some systems to toss the resume out as spam. Some 87 percent of recruiters report using LinkedIn first when it comes to searching for qualified candidates, so this needs to be the first place you direct the employer so that they can learn more about your accomplishments and evaluate your culture fit for their company.”
Pro Tip: make sure you proofread your LinkedIn page carefully as well as any articles or other documents you attach. Prospective employers read LinkedIn even more carefully than they read your resume.
Gaming the ATS is a basic fact of creating resumes that work well for online job applications. So, while you are already in LinkedIn, spend some times using it’s search feature to your best advantage. Here is some excellent advice from Anish Majumdar, contributing writer at the online job site, Glassdoor. He suggests that you skip using job postings themselves to select and match keywords. Because these words are not ranked in order of importance, designing a resume to include them can backfire. Instead he suggests you look up young professionals in your same line of work – just use the LinkedIn search feature and type in the title of the job you are applying for. You will get a list of others who have your current job. Take 10 or 15 of these profiles and scroll down to the “Featured Skills and Endorsements” section. Here you will find actual relevant KEYWORDS that have been pre-optimized by going through the LinkedIn. Write down all keywords that seem relevant. However, when updating your resume, use only those keywords that you can fully tie in to a description of direct experience you want to showcase.
Dwight Schrute’s Resume is unlikely to make it through the corporate HR ATS system.
Pro-tip: Have two versions of your resume. The main resume should be simple with few graphics so it doesn’t confuse ATS systems. Your secondary resume should have a bit more visual interest for use with real human contacts. Remember, nearly 70% of all job changers report that their new job came from a networking source, so don’t skip personal networking – this should be the basis for any job search process.