I can list a number of elements to a cover letter that will make a hiring director happy:
- Precise language
- Impeccable grammar
- Story-driven examples of results you have produced
- Aesthetically pleasing format
- Personality-infused writing
All of these mean nothing if you did not read the job description. Yes, the most important element to a cover letter is tailoring your pitch to the job description to prove you're the best fit for the position.
You'd be surprised as to how few people write a cover letter without integrating elements of the desired candidate qualities into their personal pitch.
Here are a few steps to show that you matched the job description to your strengths:
1. Read the job description at least three times. In the first round, read it to understand the type of candidate the company is looking for. Reflect on whether or not your capabilities and personality match the candidate description. In the second round, identify the key qualities and skills the company is looking for in the right candidate. Highlight these elements or write them down as key concepts to integrate into your cover letter. In the third round, you have already written your cover letter and you are re-reading the job description to guarantee you have showcased several of these elements in your note.
2. Match several qualities in the job description to your experience. Take 3-5 qualities you have identified in the job description and think about stories from your work/volunteer experiences that prove you possess these skills. Share 1-2 anecdotes to showcase how you gained and honed in on the qualities the company is looking for in each candidate.
3. Make a clear connection between the company's description of the ideal candidate and you. Sprinkle similar language used in the job description to describe your achievements in your cover letter. You can even use one or two key words that you identified and weave that into your writing.
Taking these steps proves to a future employer that you are right for the job.
Sarah Sax is the Founder of Write For The Job.