Writing a cover letter that stands out in a recruiter's Inbox.
A strong cover letter elevates your application above the rest. Not every company asks for a cover letter, but if they do, or even if it is optional - you want to submit a letter that wows them. Here are a few Dos and Don’ts to get you started.
Do: Use a formal tone. Start the letter with “Dear Hiring Manager” or something similar; if you know their name, use it! Keep your language and tone formal throughout the letter. Consider using a template to get a feel for the format and style.
Don’t: Don’t rely on weak verbs. In particular, watch out for “being” verbs - as in, is/was/be/being. For example, instead of, “I was the manager of a ten person team,” write, “I managed a ten person team.” This creates stronger, more succinct sentences.
Do: Break the letter into several paragraphs. Start with an introduction, then a paragraph on technical or hands-on skills, and a paragraph on non-technical and soft skills. Finish with a paragraph reiterating your fit for the role, thanking the reader and asking for an interview.
Don’t: Don’t just describe your experiences or skills: demonstrate them. Always use tangible examples, and whenever possible, measurable outcomes. Instead of, “I was manager for a solar installation team for two years,” try, “I led a team of 6 to install over 400 solar panels in the last two years across two provinces.”
Do: Explain exactly why you’re interested in this specific role, at this specific company. Maybe describe a machine or technology that the company uses or produces that you are particularly excited about. Make it personal and make it persuasive.
Don’t: Don’t use the same generic cover letter for every company. If you’re excited about a company or role, put in the time to make your cover letter specific - it will make a difference.
Do: Always thank the reader for their time, reiterate your top skill that makes you a great candidate and request to further discuss those skills in an interview.
Don’t: Never write more than a single page. Keep it short and engaging.
Do: Double check the application materials to ensure you’ve covered all of the required topics within your letter. Sometimes a company will specifically ask for availability or eligibility to work in Canada etc.
Do: Check your spelling and grammar. Try reading the letter out loud to ensure that the topics and logic flow well. Consider having a friend or mentor read through your cover letter. You may not need to do this for every letter, but if you’re new to cover letter writing this can help you create a solid base letter.
Cover letters take a bit of time, but they are an excellent way to build on the information in your resume to create a compelling application package. If you’re still not confident in creating a cover letter, we have an upcoming post that dives into more detail. You might also consider booking a session with one of the Climate Career Portal mentors to help you get started or review your progress.
Post by freelance writer Anna Kobb
This blog is funded in part by the Government of Canada's Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program.