Cover letters might seem tedious and time-consuming, but that’s almost the point. It’s a company’s first opportunity to see if you can take the time to talk about yourself, the job you want and how the two overlap with your previous skills and career goals – all in under 200 words. It is the first impression you have at your dream company, and it counts. Your goal is to get them interested enough to turn the letter over to actually read your resume.
Now every individual is different, and so is every job application. This is not a “one size fits all” solution. We recommend using this as a starting point for your letter, where you can be sure you’ve included all of the important information you feel is necessary.
The first big mistake FMs make is addressing a letter To Whom It May Concern. This shows you put absolutely little to no effort finding out who would be reviewing your application. Usually the hiring manager’s name will be listed on the job announcement, if it’s not, do some research! Call the company to get the proper name, or use LinkedIn to search for them. It may take more time, but it will get your letter further in the long run.
Be careful not to waste precious space by stating who you are and where you heard about the opening. Get creative right off the bat! Say why this job looks exciting to you and why you’d rock at it. For example, if you were applying for the assistant facilities manager job at iOffice you could say, “I’m a recent facilities management graduate and I’d love to bring a fresh perspective and my enthusiasm to your team of Workspace Cowboys.”
The bulk of your paper should be in your next section. This is where you get to show your awesome self off. Companies want to hire people (especially facilities managers) who can help them effectively solve problems. Talk about how you implemented a new security system at your last position, or how you took the initiative to replace all of the light bulbs with new LEDs to stay compliant while lowering electricity bills.
In many industries this is where you would convey your love for your job, which you could choose to do here. However it’s more important to show what you can and have accomplished. If you have the ability to tie your experience to a known problem at the company, go for it! For example you could say, “I know at iOffice you’ve been experiencing rapid growth. At my previous position, I assisted in implementing a room reservation system, which we found extremely helpful for managing our space demands.” Show them that you know more about their company than just their name and tagline, and you’ve done the research to learn about their needs.
If you’re an entry-level candidate, this section can be a bit more challenging. Take this time to talk about any specific skills you may have acquired through your core classes, or what you have taken away from an internship. Now don't mention, “Lawn Care 101”, they want to know how you managed your time and how you worked with others, the real skills you’ll need at your real job. The reader understands why you may not have actual experience, and that’s ok. It’s what you tell them about what you’ve learned that matters.
Okay, it’s time to wrap it up. This is the most important section of your letter. Most hiring managers give your entire CL about 30 seconds, with the tail ending hopefully being the one that sticks.
This is where you close the deal, by including a call-to-action in your sentence. There is a fine line between being assertive and being overly aggressive. Your final sentence should come across as confident, yet respectful. For the iOffice position you could close like this, “I hope to play an active role in the future of iOffice and the Workspace Cowboys culture. I’ll contact you next week to discuss this opportunity or other positions where your needs and my talents meet."
People are busy, always be gracious and thank them for their time (even 30 seconds).
- Have a strong opening statement
- Address your letter to a name/person/ department
- Spell check and have another set of eyes read it over
- Avoid humor – jokes don’t always read the same as they sound in your head.
- Don’t make it longer than 150-200 words (shorter than a page)
- No grammar mistakes, that’s just lazy