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Now, more than ever, food banks throughout America need help feeding those who are most impacted by COVID-19. Bookbyte is stepping up and taking action by partnering with Feeding America® to donate $1 for every buyback order received from now until June 31st, 2020. Together, with your help, we can get food to those who need it most.Sell textbooks to help >
How to Write a Successful Cover Letter in 3 Easy Steps—[Step 1]
Step 1- Pre-Write
I got hired at Bookbyte nine days after I applied not because I was the most qualified candidate, but because I had a resume that stood out and my cover letter turned me into a person.
Here's how to guarantee your cover letter does the same for you.
Before we start writing, we have to do some thinking.
We know that recruiters usually only spend six seconds reviewing your resume, which means your cover letter is the final impression you make before they decide who gets an interview.
That means the point of a cover letter, besides making you better than 97% of all the other applicants, is turning you human. Your resume is all about data: how long you worked somewhere, what you accomplished while working, etc. Your cover letter should take that data and transform it into a real human being who has valuable skills.
So, let's learn how to make you human.
Understand the style of the company you're applying for
Your cover letter needs to be in tune with the language the company uses to describe themselves. If it's a fancy new startup, you don't want a cover letter that sounds like it's from the 1990s. Similarly, if you're applying for a more traditional position at a bank or a government office, maybe "sir or madam" is the right call. You want to sound like a real human, but you also want to sound like you'll fit in with the company. Understand their style and you can do both.
You won't know the right tone to use until you spend a few minutes researching, so get to it. Read their website, their "about us" and check out the way they describe themselves to get ideas.
Understand how you meet their needs
If you have a clear understanding of what the company needs (because you read the job description and researched them) you can more easily tell them why they should hire you.
Finding their needs is easy: it's in the job description. Take the job description and turn each sentence into bullet points. Then, go through and see what your answer is to each bullet point. They need someone who has experience leading a team? You have 5 years experience as a marketing manager. They need an analytical mind who works well under pressure? You're the fastest coder on the west coast.
Now, we want you to be human, not just "worked at company X for Y years."
Think about your answers to the bullet points and choose your strongest two or three. Write a bit about those few answers and what experience you gained there. What did you do at company X? What about working there was unique? Any fun stories associated with that job? You don't need more than a sentence or two, just write down the big picture ideas that come to mind first. We'll flesh them out more in Step 2.
Before you move on, please remember that personality does not trump qualifications. Turning yourself human is great, but it's no substitute for being qualified. Remember, personality is supposed to accentuate the data in your beautiful resume, not replace it.