You know enough to regularly update your resume—so if you find a job posting you’re interested in, you’re halfway through the application process.The other half, of course, is your cover letter. If you have some time and are just rusty, you can make a game plan to write a draft, then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.
But if you see the deadline to apply is just 30 minutes away, you don’t have any time to spare. Here’s how to write a cover letter that will bolster your application—in just half an hour. (And if you need to revamp your resume or prep for interview in the same amount time, look here and here.)
Minutes 1 Through 10: Write Down Your Main Points
Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle the most on the opening line of a cover letter. I know I shouldn’t lead with “My name is…,” and I want something that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention. But my quest for the perfect beginning can lead me to spend 15 minutes (or more) typing and deleting the same line over and over. (And at that rate, my 30-minute cover letter would be all of two sentences.)
So, skip the intro if need be, and just start writing about why you’re a great fit for the open position. Don’t stress about the very best way to phrase your current responsibilities. Just write down your main points.
Need a prompt? Answer these questions: What do you find most exciting (or interesting) about the position? What relevant experience do you have? What would you bring to the role (and/or company) that’s unique to you?
Definitely make sure to have your resume and the job description open or printed out next to you. That way you can glance over at both and make sure you’re highlighting the right experience.
Minutes 10 Through 20: Add in Examples
OK, so you’ve written out all of reasons why you’re perfect for the job. Now it’s time to make sure you’re on the same page as the hiring manager. How so? Go back to that job description.
Re-read what the position calls for. Did you mention the experience and skills they’ll be screening for? To connect the dots in a way that’s clear—but wouldn’t be confused with a laundry list—add in an example or two.
If the job calls for people skills, swap out the line that reads, “I have excellent people skills” with a line that explains how in previous roles you’ve managed relationships with board members, which taught you about working with opinionated stakeholders. Does the position call for someone with sales experience? An anecdote about how you’ve been in sales since you set up your first lemonade stand when you were seven years old is memorable.
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