Cover letters are important because they give prospective employers a more detailed picture of you and your experience. This video will teach you how to write a cover letter to address and overcome your layoff by making the connections between your experience and the requirements of job to which you are applying. Learn how to stay positive and forward-thinking and how to use the latest options to correctly format and submit cover letters.
- In an article by Forbes, the cover letter was declared almost dead. But in the same article, the writer said that 53% of employers prefer a candidate who submits a cover letter. So which is it? I still highly recommend writing cover letters, especially when applying to jobs at small and mid-sized companies. They really give hiring managers a chance to form a more detailed picture of you, and they're also great for adding much needed keywords to your application. But how do you write a cover letter that is brief and that helps you overcome your layoff? Let's go over the steps you should take.
First, break free from formulas with an honest, but positive, cover letter. The written voice you use to introduce yourself, will tell a recruiter whether or not you fit their company and culture. Then, acknowledge your challenge. Like most people who've been laid off, you're nervous that your layoff makes recruiters shy away from you. Address the elephant in the room, but don't dwell on it. For example, you might say something like, as you'll notice, I have a bit of a gap in my official work history. I was laid off from my last position, but have since been doing X, Y, and Z to stay knowledgeable and active in this field.
Here's how I can put my skills and experience to work at your company. There, that's it. You've defeated the elephant in the room. You've acknowledged what will be on the hiring manager's mind quickly and without negativity. And the added benefit is that your own mental weight is lifted because you don't have to worry about whether or not that topic will come up at some point. And that light, positive feeling, will absolutely come through in your applications and any future interviews. Now you can focus on the most important thing, selling yourself as the applicant for this job.
The next part of your cover letter should quickly outline two, or three, ways you fit the job description and the company. For example, you might write something like, I see that this role requires five years of project management experience. Over the last six years, I've successfully managed 35 web design projects, and I really enjoy communicating with clients to set up expectations and meet their needs. Be specific. It shows you've read the job description thoroughly and you're qualified. If possible, address the top two, or three, requirements from the job description in this same way.
Finally, let's go over formatting and sending your cover letters. Here are the key things you should know. Whatever cover letter format you decide, always include your name, email address, and phone number on it. Cover letters shouldn't be more than about 350 words, and if you're applying by email, your cover letter is your email. Don't write a separate email telling the company that you're attaching a cover letter. Just write the cover letter in the body of your email. You can attach a copy of your cover letter as well, but make sure to mention the attachment in the body of your email.
You can say something like, I've also attached a copy of this letter to the email for reference. If you're applying through an online application system, submit your cover letter as a document, just like your resume. If that's not an option, consider including your cover letter as the first page of your resume with your resume on the second page. Still not an option? (laughs) Look for any other ways to submit text documents with your application. And if that doesn't work, submit your resume through the online system and find a contact at the company to send your full application.
In fact, always try to find a contact at the company. Dealing with a human is almost always more effective than dealing with an applicant tracking system. To sum up, aim to write a formula-free honest cover letter. Address your layoff quickly and positively. Connect your experience to the requirements in the job description. And figure out how to include your cover letter, depending on the submission requirements. If handled properly, this one page document can go a long way to showing an employer that you're worthy of consideration.
- Dealing with job loss
- Taking classes and building skills
- Volunteering to fill resume gaps
- Searching and applying for jobs
- Writing a better resume and cover letter
- Interviewing for your first job after a layoff