Employer Cover Letter For Job Description
How to decipher a job description to improve your chances of getting hired
Get a better understanding of what exactly an employer is looking for, and use those insights to put some extra shine on your job application.
If you’ve been searching Monster job postings for a golden career opportunity, you don’t have to look too far for a helping hand. Job descriptions themselves offer valuable guidance on how you can best position yourself as a strong, competitive candidate.
Job descriptions can vary from company to company—even if you’re searching for one particular job title—so you have to know how to interpret the information in front of you. First tip: Note the keywords used and be sure to use the same words in your application materials.
For more, we asked career experts which parts of the job description are most important and can help lead you to a signed offer letter.
The company description
Why it’s important: It helps you learn more about the company culture and how well it synchs with your personality.
A company describes itself as it wants to be seen, and from that, you can get clues as to what the company values, what you should research, and what kinds of questions you should ask in an interview.
For example, if a company describes itself as a rapidly growing athletic brand for busy millennials, you can infer that the company sees itself as energetic, youthful, and poised for success. If that matches your personality, then describe yourself similarly in your cover letter.
Once you score an interview, investigate the financial health of the sporting goods industry, design trends, millennial buying habits, and competitors. Use what you learn to write up some interview questions that demonstrate you’ve done your homework.
“Doing some research about the business, the particular position, or learning about the company’s customer base, challenges, interests, direction, etc., are all very good practices because it allows the applicant to understand the business better from the perspective of the company,” says Stephanie Troiano, executive recruiter of The Hire Talent, a pre-employment assessment company in Brea, California. “I’ve found that companies really appreciate when candidates take their time to do research and then can ask good, thoughtful questions about their business.”
The first few bullet points
Why they’re important: They usually map out the bulk of your duties.
Hiring managers frequently frontload job descriptions with the most crucial responsibilities of the job. “Generally, the top three bullets on a job description represent 80% or more of what a candidate will be expected to do for a job,” says April Klimkiewicz, a career counselor at Bliss Evolution in Fort Lauderdale.
“Often, when job descriptions are being written, employers jot down—in order—the first duties that come to mind for the position,” she says. “As you get further down the list, typically, these bullets have come to the mind of the employer later, representing a smaller percentage of the job duties and requirements.”
To stand out to potential employers, make sure your resume elaborates on your skills that mirror the duties mentioned in the top bullet points; you can simply list your skills that align with the job description’s lower-level bullet points.
Why they’re important: They tell you what to highlight on your resume and cover letter.
As with required duties, job descriptions will list the most valuable skills and experiences at the top of the list. Your resume and cover letter should follow suit. Why? Because most employers will try to hire the person who will need the least amount of training.
“I advise clients to use accomplishments on their resume to address each of the required experiences, and to put this information first,” says Jessica Hernandez, a professional resume writer at Great Resumes Fast. For each major accomplishment, she suggests creating bullet points that describe the challenge presented to you, the actions you took, and the results of your strategic efforts.
For example, if the job description says you need experience in staffing, you might mention that you researched and implemented the launch of a new applicant tracking system that helped accelerate hiring times by 25%.
A thorough reading of a job description will give you the necessary tools to present yourself as a strong candidate. “When a job seeker customizes their resume to each position they apply to using this strategy,” Hernandez says, “they're much more likely to receive a response from their application.”
Whether you love writing cover letters or view them as a chore, many hiring managers still rely on them to gauge an applicant’s personality, attention to detail, and communication skills. The key to writing effective cover letters, then, is to follow instructions and communicate succinctly but with a compelling voice.
Here are five guidelines to keep in mind as you craft your cover letters.
1. Customize your header based on the format of your application
If you’re writing your cover letter directly within an online job application, there’s no need to include your address or other contact information, as you’ve probably already typed that into other areas of the application form. If you’re including your cover letter as an attachment, you can use the same heading as your resume.
2. Use an appropriate greeting
If you know the name of the hiring manager for this job, begin your cover letter by addressing them directly (Example: Dear Jane Smith). If you don’t know the name of the hiring manager, you can begin your letter with a simple “Hello,” or “Dear Hiring Manager,”. Get a feel for the company’s culture when deciding how formal your greeting should be. More formal introductions such as “To Whom It May Concern:” or “Dear Sir or Madame,” can come across as too stuffy for some organizations, while greetings like “Hey!” and “Hi there,” are almost always too casual for a cover letter.
3. Avoid generic references to your abilities
Whenever possible, tell meaningful anecdotes that tie your skills to concrete problem-solving activities or tangible business results you’ve worked on in your career. Any candidate can say they possess a desirable skill. To make an impact, you need to show hiring managers examples of your skills in action. For example:
Too vague: “My skills would be a great fit for your organization.”
More specific: “In my role as a sales associate, I am frequently required to provide exceptional customer service on short notice. Exceeding customers’ expectations is a point of personal and professional pride for me, and this is a skill I’m eager to continue developing.
Too vague: “I’m a proactive team player.”
More specific: “In my current job, I proactively jumped in to help launch an internal recycling and waste reduction initiative. Together, our team contributed to a 25% reduction in solid waste production within the company.”
4. Keep it short and to the point
Unless specified in the job description, there is no required length for a cover letter, so focus on the details that are most important for the job. Read the job description closely to identify the best opportunities to illustrate your qualifications. What professional achievements are you the most proud of? Choose one or two and map them directly to the desired experience or qualifications the hiring manager is looking for, using just a few detailed but concise sentences. What attributes is the job description calling for in a candidate? Consider using the cover letter itself as a way of demonstrating those traits.
Don’t reiterate everything that’s on your resume. You want to focus on one or two anecdotes, expanding on how you achieved something specific.
[Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing]
Here are two examples of cover letters, a traditional version and a less traditional version. First, read the job description on the left, then read the cover letter. In the first example, you’ll see how the writer uses specific phrases from the job description and includes them in the letter. The second example takes a more creative approach. The author tells a personal story and appeals more abstractly to the attributes called for in the job posting. Both are less than 300 words long.
Example 1: Administrative Assistant
In this role, you will be supporting managers and other senior level personnel by managing their calendars, arranging travel, filing expense reports, and performing other administrative tasks.
Strong interpersonal skills, attention to detail, and problem solving skills will be critical to success.
- 5+ years of experience providing high-level admin support to diverse teams in a fast-paced environment
- High school diploma or equivalent work experience
- Excellent Microsoft Office Skills with an emphasis on Outlook and Excel
- Self-motivated and highly organized
- Team players who works well with minimal supervision
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am writing to express my interest in the opening for an administrative assistant at ***.
I am drawn to this opportunity for several reasons. First, I have a proven track record of success in administrative roles, most recently in my current job as an administrative coordinator. A highlight from my time here was when I proactively stepped in to coordinate a summit for our senior leaders last year. I arranged travel and accommodation for a group of 15 executives from across the company, organized meals and activities, collaborated with our internal events team, and ensured that everything ran according to schedule over the two-day summit. Due to the positive feedback I received afterwards, I have been given the responsibility of doubling the number of attendees for the event this year and leading an internal team to get the job done.
I am also attracted to this role because of the the growth opportunities that *** provides. The research that I’ve done on your company culture has shown me that there are ample opportunities for self-motivated individuals like me. A high level of organization and attention to detail are second nature to me, and I’m eager to apply these skills in new and challenging environments.
I look forward to sharing more details of my experience and motivations with you. Thank you for your consideration.
Example 2: Brand Copywriter
We are looking for an experienced copywriter to join our team. If you have a great eye for balance, a quick wit, and can adapt a brand voice for any medium, then this role is right for you.
- Write for branded communications including ads, emails, events, landing pages, video, product marketing, and more.
- Maintain and develop the voice of our brand in collaboration with others.
- Develop copy for internal communications that generate excitement about our company culture
- Work independently and manage your time well.
- Strong copyediting skills: for your own work and for others.
- A portfolio of your work
- Minimum 5 years of copywriting, ideally within an agency
- Strong attention to detail
There are least two less-than-obvious ways to improve your vocabulary (and by extension, your copywriting skills): studying for the GRE and becoming a crossword puzzle enthusiast. I’ve done both but for the purposes of this job application, I’d like to focus on the latter.
My grandmother was the best writer I’ve ever known. She wasn’t a professional writer, but she had a gift and a love of writing was something we shared. It wasn’t until last year that I also took up her love of crossword puzzles, and immediately saw how the two went hand in hand. Before long, I was solving Monday through Wednesday puzzles in the New York Times, needing to look up words less and less frequently as time passed. Soon, I was able to complete Thursday to Saturday, too. Throughout this process, I could feel my stock of quips, rejoinders, and turns of phrase steadily growing. Eventually, I worked up the courage to attempt the Sunday puzzles.
It was this courage that was the real turning point for me. In my current agency, I was already known as a hard worker and creative spirit; my peer and manager evaluations had made this clear. But while I felt confident in my abilities, I had never seen myself as particularly daring. Considering new challenges and mastering each one along the way had given me a renewed sense of myself and clarity about my chosen profession.
I began a career as a copywriter because I was skilled at finding combinations of words to fit a thought or feeling. I’m continuing down that path because I’ve realized how I can shape and hone that skill to reach new heights. I’d like copywriting at *** to be the next step in my journey.
All the best,
5. Always proofread before you submit
Reread your cover letter several times before submitting and keep an eye out for errors of spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Reading the letter aloud can help you pick out awkward phrasing or too-long sentences. There are certain common errors that we all have a tendency to gloss over, so make sure to do a slow, deliberate reading that examines each word. If your salutation includes the hiring manager’s name, triple-check the spelling.
[Read more: Cover Letter Checklist: What to Review Before You Submit]
For jobs that require submitting a cover letter, remember that you’re getting a valuable chance to illustrate your capabilities and share a glimpse of authentic personality. Take advantage of the opportunity to let your greatest strengths shine, while also showing that you respect the hiring manager’s time and attention.
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