I honestly don’t know how many people even require cover letters these days, let alone read them. If I had to guess based on how much time a recruiter spends reading your resume, your cover letter is most definitely doomed to the recycling bin. I’m sorry. No matter how much time you just spent crafting the ultimate cover letter, there’s still a slim to none chance they’ll read it. However, we still have to submit a cover letter when they ask because following instructions is the first test of any decent applicant, at least in my book.
Cover letters inspire fear in people who don’t consider themselves writers. They’re frantically googling templates and phrases like “best cover letter.” But there’s less nuance than strategy to a cover letter, if you’re asking me.
If we know anyone who reads this is more likely to skim than comprehends, we’re actually at an advantage because there’s now one thing we can control: where their eyes go. And we can do it with this 1 simple hack.
Are you ready?
Right in the middle of your cover letter, I want you to copy and pasted at least 4 of the skills from the job. Tweak each one slightly by adding data to highlight your results. It’s that simple.
Transition to the list with: “I provided both immediate and long-term improvements in a number of key areas, some of which are highlighted below:” then add the customized bullets.
The last time I wrote a cover letter was over two years ago, but here’s what I wrote for the social media jobs version, as a practical example.
- Daily management of social media communities, driving social web traffic 249% above goal
- Manage team of 8 to optimize marketing programs including the launch of a company blog, SEO, paid media and e-mail
- Work cross-functionally with sales and marketing organizations to align marketing outputs with revenue oriented projects
You’ll see that I started with something that clearly came out of the job description, then ended with a number or specific experience to qualify my background. If a recruiter is just scanning my resume, naturally their eyes are drawn to the bullets because they don’t have to read any heavy text and they can easily see I’m a good fit based on the core criteria from their job description.
Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.