Writing a job application email or cover letter is hard - it has to be detailed enough to give an impression, but it also has to be prompt to get noticed. This is the ultimate guide on how to write the best.
As a freelancer, you face this challenge every day. No matter if it's just a gig or a full-time job - you need a cover letter or application email. Also, this is one of the most common questions I get from would-be-freelancers: do you use any templates when applying for a project? I do, and I don't. Let me explain now. By the way, I believe these tips below can help for those who apply for traditional in-office jobs as well.
Understand the why
Before you even write a sentence - understand why you are doing this. What is the point of the cover letter? Simple: it's a pitch. It tells a super-short story on the applicant and why are the best fit for that exact position. The cover letter's point is to showcase what's not in your CV. If you truly understand this point, you won't repeat your resume and your titles. If recruiters would only hire based on skills and experience alone, they would not need cover letters or even interviews. They would check your profile, your skills, your background and that's it.
It is your primary goal. A cover letter's primary purpose of connecting the decision maker (recruiter or employer) and the applicant. That connection is made through a simple acknowledgment: yes, this applicant is interesting enough for a 1st interview.
No matter how skilled you are, how smart you are, no matter if you would be indeed the best applicant for that job if your application disappears into the spam folder or just merely gets ignored. So your number one drive should be to write something that is easy to get notified.
Be short and effective. Telling your life story might not be the best approach. If the employer receives more than a 100 applications (which is very common), trust me, they won't read all of them. Alternatively, they might understand the email itself but delete it quickly or ignore it after a few seconds of reading. So make sure your email is short, easy-to-read and informative. Pro tip: use 3-5 bullet-points with one long sentence per points. One sentence behind the points and one after. That is the ideal length and structure for a cover letter.
Grab the attention. Make the subject of your email and your first sentence unique and engaging. That will make the recipient to read the whole email through. Anything can go from silly personal stuff or praise of the employer, something that grabs attention plus showcases your style and that you know whom you are writing to and why are you applying for the job.
Show your skills, not just tell
Learn the difference between saying "I'm great with B2B marketing" and "In one of my recent job, I generated X leads for Y client with my B2B marketing." Simply asserting your skills isn't enough, show examples and give the words some meaning.
It is also true for your personal story. It is always better to say a personal touch on why you applied. It gives meaning to the whole application and shows some passion, which is still great. The "I saw your job post on X site, this is my application" only says you need a job. Any job.
...and the basics
I know this has been said many times by everyone literally but still, I see hundreds of applications missing the essential points... So here are the basic requirements:
Link your public profile or portfolio site - it saves time for the employer. If you are interesting enough, they will look you up, but it's nice to keep them a quick Google Search, especially if you have a ubiquitous name.
Don't attach a CV - it's 2018. If it's a must or someone seriously wants your CV, only attach a well-formatted, short PDF.
Keep the tone of voice as conversational and human as possible. You are not a robot.
Speaking of copy, never use a template. Also, please skip the formalities too, like "Dear Sir/Madam, please find my cover letter below..." - it just tells that you are highly unprofessional. A simple 'hi' will do it most of the time.
If it's a remote job, tell how long you've been working remotely. It is crucial.
If you have a blog or an active social profile that you want to share, share it. It tells the employer that you are passionate about something. Your Instagram about your puppy-pictures might be too much, but you get the picture.
Close the letter professionally: suggest an opportunity for a talk or sum up your motivation for the application.
Too much jargon, bullshit, spelling mistakes, typos and grammar errors - instant delete, even if you are Elon Musk and Grant Cardone combined.
There you have it. If you have a routine and actively looking for a job, a project or a gig, it means you are writing 5-10 cover letters a day. The structure and some elements of the copy can be templated and saved to your notes and copied over - but still, every job is different so every cover letter should be different too.