In today’s competitive marketplace, it takes more than diplomas, skills and experience to land that dream job. To get hiring managers in the Canadian job market to pay attention to your resume, you need a well-written, wow-factor, cover letter, compelling them to want to meet You!
This one-page document, submitted alongside your resume, introduces you, mentions what job you’re applying for, but most essentially highlights your professional strengths as they relate to that position you’ve got your sights on. A compelling cover letter gets you noticed and helps land that first interview. Here are the steps to follow to make that happen!
Before You Write
First, do some research. Find out more about the organization you’re applying to by perusing the website, reading the company’s social media feeds and those of company executives. You’ll learn a lot about their goals, priorities and the company culture. Hiring decisions are often based on “fit,” so try to adopt a similar tone in your letter.
A Canadian cover letter needs to be tailored to each job you apply for. While your resume can be somewhat generic, listing your education, work experience and volunteering, use the cover letter to highlight special skills, successes and professional objectives that relate directly to the position you’re aiming for.
Cover Letter Structure
All the elements – header (contact information), greeting, body, salutation and signature – should fit on a single page. You’ll need to make a big impact in only 250-400 words.
Grab the reader’s attention in your opening line. Say who you are, mention one or two of the strongest skills you can offer in this role and communicate why you’re excited to apply for this position. It’s always a good idea to name the position you’re applying for in case the company has multiple openings.
Use the rest of the letter to highlight strengths and achievements that aren’t immediately apparent in your CV. How have you benefited the organizations you’ve worked for, or their clients, in meaningful ways? For example, did you introduce a workplace innovation that lowered company costs? Did you mentor new employees? If you’re still a student, did you set up and lead a study group in your specialization?
Read the job description carefully and choose details about you that align with the ones they’re looking for. This shows you know what the expectations are.
A brief closing paragraph sums up your interest in the position and thanks the reader for considering your application. This is followed by a formal salutation (e.g. Yours sincerely,) your signature and name.
Emphasize Your Personal Value
Employers in the Canadian job market are looking for candidates who can adapt to challenges and solve problems, so give a few examples of past accomplishments that show you have the skills and attributes to help the company grow, improve and innovate.
Don’t forget to emphasize what you’re excited about doing and learning next. Anticipating how you fit into an organization’s future plans, and outlining how you will help them achieve their goals, are great ways to emphasize your potential and personal value.
Get a friend, colleague or instructor to review your cover letter before you send it. Do they get a clear picture of who you are and what you offer the company? Is there anything missing? A colleague or teacher familiar with the Canadian job market might recognize a valuable skill you have that’s worth mentioning. Ask your reader what isn’t working and implement their advice.
What if The Job Requests “No Cover Letters”?
Sometimes company platforms or employment websites use standardized forms that don’t allow cover letters. In these situations, it’s hard to showcase your special skills. Do your best to highlight your abilities in the fields provided. Then, try to locate the email address of the hiring manager and write a brief follow-up that says a little more about you. Reaching out shows you’re a person who takes initiative.
Above all, your letter should be professional, mature, enthusiastic and authentic. Don’t sound desperate – sound confident. If you really want the job, your desire will shine through and you’ll land that all-important interview.
Need more tips? Our Career Services department is ready to help Anderson College students with resumes, cover letters and interview preparation. If you have questions about employment applications or need career advice, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our career advisors.
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