You've copy and pasted your entire resume, checked all of the boxes and entered in all of your information. You hit "next" only to be faced with the (sometimes mandatory) option of uploading a cover letter. Thousands of people apply for jobs in the ultra-competitive tech field. How do you stand out?
One way to differentiate yourself from the hoard of job seekers is to write an engaging, memorable cover letter.
If someone else can copy and paste your cover letter, you’re doing it wrong.
Here are the four things you need for a killer cover letter:
1. Engaging Introduction
Do not begin with “to whom it may concern”. Find a name to address your letter to. If you can’t find a name, get creative. For example, you could say something like “Dear fellow Gaming Nerd” or "Dear Fellow Open-Source Advocate".
Like a journalist uses a hook to engage a reader to continue reading an article, you need an intriguing opening sentence for your cover letter that leaves the reader wanting more. Don't lead with "My name is James, and I want to work at your company." Think: "I built my first computer when I was 7" or "What are we going to do when 40% of Arizonans lose their job to automation and AI?"
2. The Why Them? Paragraph
Anyone can visit a company's homepage and read the mission statement. In this part of your cover letter, you should present your research on the job, company and industry from your unique perspective. Let them know what it would mean for you to work for them. It’s not enough to just be a fan. For example, if you’re writing a cover letter for a position at Blizzard, you can’t just say you’re a fan of World of Warcraft. Everyone who is applying is a fan. More than 14,000 people applied for Blizzard's summer internship program!
Find a way to stand out. Maybe you go reference a speech that you saw the CEO give at BlizzCon. Maybe your volunteer experience or Medium articles align with their culture. Maybe you recognized something within one of their games that nobody else did. Perhaps you identify a problem and offer your solution.
When done effectively, this part of the cover letter is a powerful way to show how interested you are in the position and company and how you can make a difference.
3. The Why You? Paragraph
Don’t just rehash what’s on your resume. This part is where you describe what sets you apart from the hundreds of other candidates with similar skill sets. Do you volunteer? Did you start a club? Did you crush it at CCDC? Do you build computers in your free time? Did you teach English in China? Did you grow up making pinball machines with your dad?
How can you articulate your unique perspective in a few sentences? Be bold. This is your chance to shine and showcase your personality and passion!
4. Strong Conclusion with a Call to Action
First and foremost, be appreciative and thankful for the reader's time. Remember, hiring managers have to sift through thousands of apps.
Secondly, make sure you include a call to action in your conclusion. Avoid sounding presumptuous with statements such as “I look forward to hearing from you." Instead, go for something specific like “I would like to schedule a time to call and discuss the ways I can help your team achieve its design goals."
Now all you need to do is keep it under 300 words, and you’re good to go!
Still stuck on a blank page? Let's connect!