Anyone who’s done a job hunt before knows how frustrating writing cover letters is. If you’ve applied to a bunch of jobs before without hearing back, you’ve probably questioned whether hiring managers even bother to read cover letters.
The truth is cover letters are still relevant today (whether we like it or not) and remain an essential tool for making a positive impression on hiring managers. A well-crafted cover letter can distinguish a candidate from the rest of the pack and increase their chances of landing an interview. But what exactly do hiring managers look for in a cover letter in 2023?
- A cover letter tailored to the job you’re applying for
These days, it’s no secret that hiring managers want to see cover letters that are tailored to the specific job they’re hiring for. In recent months, we’ve seen a rise in job seekers using artificial intelligence (AI) to help them write targeted cover letters that match job descriptions. While AI tools can save time and make cover letters more specific, there is a risk that your cover letter could sound generic if you don’t add personality to it.
After all, it’s important to remember that cover letters are your chance to showcase your unique skills and experiences, while also highlighting your fit for the job and company. By balancing tailored content with personal flair, you can increase your chances of impressing hiring managers and landing that job.
- Specific soft skills
In 2023, specific soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and problem solving abilities are more important than ever. But it’s not enough to simply mention you have them. Employers want to see how you’ve applied these skills in your past roles and how they can help you fit in at the company you’re applying for.
While technical skills and qualifications still matter, companies are increasingly looking for candidates who can:
- work well with others
- adapt to changing situations
- show emotional intelligence
Regardless of your industry, you should highlight your soft skills in your cover letter and give concrete examples of how you’ve applied these skills in the past to give hiring managers context.
3. Remote work experience and performance
We’ve all experienced an accelerated shift toward remote work in the past 3 years, and many companies now offer more flexible working arrangements like full work-from-home and hybrid environments.
Consequently, managers are looking for candidates who can work effectively in a remote environment. In addition to highlighting your experience with remote work, such as working on virtual teams or using collaboration tools like Zoom and Slack, you should also be able to prove the positive impact you made on your company – even if it was from your living room.
- Your enthusiasm for the job and the company
In addition to highlighting specific skills and experiences, a successful cover letter should always show your enthusiasm for the job and the company. Managers want to see that you’re genuinely interested in the position and passionate about the company’s mission.
For example, you can share personal anecdotes or stories demonstrating your connection to the company’s values. This is one way to add that personal touch to your cover letter that can make you more personable and more likely to get that interview.
- A concise cover letter that tells your story
Finally, managers are looking for cover letters that are concise, well-written, and error-free. And while it can be child’s play to keep spelling and grammar errors at bay thanks to AI tools, job seekers still risk writing long, rambling cover letters, which recruiters don’t have time to read through as they’re often flooded with applications.
Aim to keep your cover letter short and sweet. In other words, shorter than the traditional full-page format and use clear, concise language that’s free from jargon and cliches. Whether you used AI tools to help you write your cover letter or not, be sure to take the time to proofread your cover letter to catch any errors and improve flow. After all, your goal is to be professional but still sound like yourself.