Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

A New Approach to the Old Cover Letter

I know what you’re thinking — why even bother with a cover letter? More often than not, recruiters and potential employers are neglecting the cover letter altogether. But in many cases, if you pass the initial resume look-over, they’ll refer back to your cover letter because it provides a better, more vivid picture of who you are as a person and professional.

Now, forget all of those old cover letter examples you pored over at the start of your professional job search. There are a few new approaches now to make your cover letter stand out and represent you to the fullest.

The Introduction

For starters, don’t begin with the typical introductory line that states to which job you’re applying. U.S. News recommends three different options. The first is a quote from a former boss or co-worker that showcases your value. Second, you could begin the cover letter with a reference back to the job description along with the qualities and experience that you have to fill the role. Finally, provide a game plan for what you hope to accomplish in the role.

The Body

You desperately need cover letter help if it’s simply reiterating what’s on your resume. Obviously, you’re going to mention your work experience, but it needs to be so much more than a statement of fact. Your new cover letter needs to tell a story.

It needs to identify who you are, where you’ve been and the things you’ve learned along the way. Don’t just talk about the two years you were a paralegal and what your day-to-day tasks were. Explain how this role ignited a passion for law and justice within you and taught you the importance of being detail-oriented, dependable and motivated to do more.

Also, if you have anything that needs to be explained on your resume, like a short, two-month stint at a certain job or a gap in work, you should include that in your cover letter. However, do so in a way that highlights your character and doesn’t damage it.

For instance, if you only worked somewhere for two months, and you weren’t happy there, convey it in a way that suggests you didn’t feel as if you were working to your maximum potential. State that you wanted to push yourself harder and felt that a move to another job, company or industry was the right move for your career.

If there is a gap in work, talk about it — even if you were laid off and unemployed. Again, discuss what you learned from that experience and how it contributed to your hopes for your future career path.

Closing

In your closing, don’t just end by saying thanks for the opportunity and that you look forward to hearing from someone. While that should definitely be included, your closing should tie the entire cover letter together. A great place to start is to look at the above introduction suggestions from U.S. News, select one you didn’t use to begin your cover letter and close it all up with your selection.

How else can you spruce up the old cover letter? Share now in our comments!

Kathryn Randolph

Kathryn is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and has five years experience writing for major job search and higher education websites. When she's not writing for the web, Kathryn is hanging out with her new baby girl, traveling, cooking, reading and running. She believes that the perfect job is out there for everyone and hopes to help Spark Hire job seekers discover their career passion and pursue it.