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Are Coverletters Useful or Useless? How to make them work for you.
Episode 2522nd February 2022 • Careers & Coffee • Corridor Careers
00:00:00 00:13:37

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Cover letters used to be a big deal when people were mailing resumes to employers. But are they still useful in digital form? Short answer: yes.

Cover letters help candidates stand out with HR professionals or managers. They can also be remixed into a LinkedIn profile or used as an introduction in an online application if there is an opportunity to add comments to the form.

Tips:

  1. Avoid over-used openers, add some creativity or a personal touch to your cover letter.
  2. Think of one of your proudest moments or memorable achievements.
  3. Identify what you learned from that proud moment.
  4. Try to apply that to a potential role you are interested or how it would serve an employer to have you as an employee.

Resource: Cover Letter Opening Line Examples

View the latest jobs, get job alerts or build a resume on Corridor Careers

Transcripts

Dan Holterhaus:

Good afternoon.

Liz Kennedy:

Good afternoon.

Dan Holterhaus:

It's been a while we haven't done careers

Dan Holterhaus:

and coffee for gosh, by going on month here.

Liz Kennedy:

Yeah, I'm wearing my Where's Waldo hat today. Like

Liz Kennedy:

where's careers and coffee today?

Dan Holterhaus:

Exactly. Yeah. And are those the like blue

Dan Holterhaus:

light filtering glasses? You got to?

Liz Kennedy:

Yeah. Just try. Every every, every device I can

Liz Kennedy:

use to keep me healthy, healthy and happy. You know?

Dan Holterhaus:

Yeah, no, no, you're coming off a little bit

Dan Holterhaus:

of a being sick. So we're glad to have back at semi-full

Dan Holterhaus:

strensubtitles.

Liz Kennedy:

Yeah, I'm feeling better now.

Dan Holterhaus:

Cool. Well, I'm having an afternoon coffee. I

Dan Holterhaus:

don't know what you got going. Figured out power through the

Dan Holterhaus:

afternoon with another cup of joe.

Liz Kennedy:

Right on. What are we talking about today, Dan?

Dan Holterhaus:

Well, let's talk about cover letters a little

Dan Holterhaus:

bit. Um, so I was reading an article, and I'll share it in

Dan Holterhaus:

the show notes. There's basically about some creative

Dan Holterhaus:

tips writing an effective cover letter. And I have the article

Dan Holterhaus:

up here on my other screen. But it was basically saying that

Dan Holterhaus:

human resource managers or recruiters, they're always

Dan Holterhaus:

reading the same things in cover letters, right, like the same

Dan Holterhaus:

opening, you know, lines. And so what this article was saying

Dan Holterhaus:

was, basically get creative. So some of the things they

Dan Holterhaus:

mentioned, would be like, avoid boring or overused openers, be

Dan Holterhaus:

lively and personable. Communicate that you'll bring

Dan Holterhaus:

something to the company. So those are a few of the things

Dan Holterhaus:

they brought up. And I actually want to do a little exercise

Dan Holterhaus:

with you. All right. And we're just going to go for it, I'm

Dan Holterhaus:

gonna ask you some questions. And I want to see what you say

Dan Holterhaus:

here. And then we're gonna translate that over to a cover

Dan Holterhaus:

letter. Okay, um, tell me about something in your life that

Dan Holterhaus:

you're most proud of.

Liz Kennedy:

Okay, so there's, there's a lot, I've got a few

Liz Kennedy:

years on you. So I've had a few more experiences. But um, I

Liz Kennedy:

would say one of my most more recent, like, really proud of

Liz Kennedy:

moments was getting my master's degree in instructional design

Liz Kennedy:

and technology. It took me five years to get my grad degree. And

Liz Kennedy:

because I was working full time and had multiple children, and,

Liz Kennedy:

and getting that degree was really a lot of effort. And I

Liz Kennedy:

was glad that I finished. My mom had worked towards the grad

Liz Kennedy:

degree as well when I was in high school, and she didn't ever

Liz Kennedy:

finish. So I felt like, Hey, I'm doing this for me. And I'm doing

Liz Kennedy:

it for mom too. So it was kind of cool.

Dan Holterhaus:

That's awesome. And you were obviously very busy

Dan Holterhaus:

at that time. Um, why? Why do you think you're so proud of

Dan Holterhaus:

getting your master's degree?

Liz Kennedy:

I think just because I went for it. We were

Liz Kennedy:

chatting about earlier, like, one thing I realized was that

Liz Kennedy:

there's a big difference between saying you're going to do

Liz Kennedy:

something and actually doing something. And it's very easy to

Liz Kennedy:

kind of relax into making plans. And, you know, imagining the

Liz Kennedy:

future, the way those plans will work out magically, but not

Liz Kennedy:

actually taking action to make them happen. And so at the time,

Liz Kennedy:

the reason I wanted to get this degree was I felt like I needed

Liz Kennedy:

more. I needed something more to move myself along in a career

Liz Kennedy:

path, because I had kind of a weird undergrad degree. And, and

Liz Kennedy:

I just wanted something more that would help me kind of give

Liz Kennedy:

myself permission to seek that next level for my career. So it

Liz Kennedy:

was really more for me, and then I didn't expect to become like

Liz Kennedy:

an instructional designer. I thought it was a really cool

Liz Kennedy:

program, and I enjoyed it, but I didn't know how I would use it

Liz Kennedy:

exactly.

Dan Holterhaus:

Sure. Um, yeah, you brought up a couple of

Dan Holterhaus:

really good things, their actions speak louder than words,

Dan Holterhaus:

right. Whether you're going for that degree, or you know, saying

Dan Holterhaus:

you're gonna travel more than 2022 or something like that. So

Dan Holterhaus:

Right.

Liz Kennedy:

Hopefully it's possible. Yeah. Yeah,

Dan Holterhaus:

sure. Um, okay, so let's kind of bring it full

Dan Holterhaus:

circle. How, how this accomplishment translate to you

Dan Holterhaus:

being an awesome employee.

Liz Kennedy:

Hmm. So let's see. First I would Google how to

Liz Kennedy:

write an effective cover letter. Let's see. I you know, I would

Liz Kennedy:

say and I and I'm sure I wrote this in a cover letter when I

Liz Kennedy:

was transitioning careers it was, you know, Hey, I found

Liz Kennedy:

something that was interesting to me, I pursued it and

Liz Kennedy:

completed it. And if you hire me, as an employee, you'll know

Liz Kennedy:

someone who's going to see something through. So you can

Liz Kennedy:

use it as like your, your, your effectiveness at following

Liz Kennedy:

through on something. But your, your most proud of event is

Liz Kennedy:

going to be different from my most proud of events are from

Liz Kennedy:

dance. And so you really just have to figure out, Okay, what

Liz Kennedy:

about this experience taught me something? And is that is that

Liz Kennedy:

something that I continued to use? And for me, it was like,

Liz Kennedy:

with this particular degree, I really understood how I learned

Liz Kennedy:

more about how people learn. And knowing that is really important

Liz Kennedy:

to my job as a manager. And, you know, just a lot of the things

Liz Kennedy:

that I do at my current role, and in previous roles that I've

Liz Kennedy:

had to so you can kind of talk that, walk that back from

Liz Kennedy:

wherever your goal is.

Dan Holterhaus:

Yeah, sure. So I really like that. And I think

Dan Holterhaus:

adding in some personality of, you know, something that you're

Dan Holterhaus:

really proud of, it's usually really easy to talk about

Dan Holterhaus:

something that you're really proud of to write.

Liz Kennedy:

Yeah, you get excited yourself, right? Yeah.

Dan Holterhaus:

Like, wow, you kind of look back and be like,

Dan Holterhaus:

Wow, I can't believe I did that almost. Um, so, you know, if

Dan Holterhaus:

you're struggling to write a cover letter, I would start

Dan Holterhaus:

right there and tell, you know, tell them employer or potential

Dan Holterhaus:

employer, like, why you're so proud of this accomplishment,

Dan Holterhaus:

and how that's going to translate over into you being an

Dan Holterhaus:

awesome employee for them.

Liz Kennedy:

So what if you don't have like a work related

Liz Kennedy:

thing that you're proud of?

Dan Holterhaus:

Yeah. I guess that's gonna be me, I guess. I'm

Dan Holterhaus:

thinking about one of my most proud moment moments, it's

Dan Holterhaus:

playing golf in college, being a student athlete in college. That

Dan Holterhaus:

was a huge accomplishment for me. And I know, in the past, I

Dan Holterhaus:

think, my cover letter that he received from me several years

Dan Holterhaus:

back, I talked about probably things like time management, and

Dan Holterhaus:

how when I was in college, I didn't have a normal college

Dan Holterhaus:

lifestyle, I was having to get up to work out at 6am, like,

Dan Holterhaus:

four days a week or five, sometimes five days a week, and

Dan Holterhaus:

I would be traveling half the week, for part of the year part

Dan Holterhaus:

of the semester. So I learned a lot of things like time

Dan Holterhaus:

management, and it just gave me, you know, very unique

Dan Holterhaus:

perspective on being competitive, you know. And I

Dan Holterhaus:

think that translates over into the world over into the

Dan Holterhaus:

workplace, too, right. So I guess that would be like my most

Dan Holterhaus:

proud of proud moment. That's, that's what I would write in my

Dan Holterhaus:

cover letter too.

Liz Kennedy:

Yeah, I think I think that's a good example, to

Liz Kennedy:

show how something that doesn't seem particularly related to

Liz Kennedy:

like any certain career path could be applicable to a cover

Liz Kennedy:

letter. Um, but does anyone write cover letters anymore?

Dan Holterhaus:

That's a great question. So um, I was actually

Dan Holterhaus:

thinking about this. And I think the first question I asked you

Dan Holterhaus:

earlier this week was like, our cover letters dead? Yeah.

Dan Holterhaus:

Because I see, like, a lot of times employers don't, you don't

Dan Holterhaus:

always need a cover letter to apply anymore. A lot of times,

Dan Holterhaus:

just the resume. And here's where I'm at with that. I think

Dan Holterhaus:

if there is a blank space or a place to upload something,

Dan Holterhaus:

attach something, you should do it. Yes. says, if it's not

Dan Holterhaus:

required, go above and beyond, right, do something more than

Dan Holterhaus:

what 95% of everybody else was doing? And you'll probably stick

Dan Holterhaus:

out from the crowd.

Liz Kennedy:

Absolutely. And I think a cover letter is

Liz Kennedy:

something that you could maybe even translate into like your

Liz Kennedy:

LinkedIn profile. You've got that like paragraph on LinkedIn

Liz Kennedy:

or your social media that can you can say a little bit about

Liz Kennedy:

yourself. Yeah, I mean, it talking about one of your

Liz Kennedy:

proudest moments would be a really great thing to include in

Liz Kennedy:

that. Just to give somebody a sense of who you are, because

Liz Kennedy:

that's what they're looking for when they're trying to determine

Liz Kennedy:

what candidates to interview. But yeah, that's one thing that

Liz Kennedy:

we've been hearing from the job seekers in the marketer, like I

Liz Kennedy:

submit my resume and I don't hear anything back. And well,

Liz Kennedy:

it's unfortunate that sometimes that happens. For one reason or

Liz Kennedy:

another, the end employer doesn't like do an outreach on

Liz Kennedy:

every single applicant, it would be in your best interest to go

Liz Kennedy:

ahead and include as much as you can, especially if it's a job

Liz Kennedy:

that you really want. Like, there might be some that you're

Liz Kennedy:

applying for, and you're not quite sure, maybe this is right

Liz Kennedy:

for me, maybe this isn't. But for those ones that you really

Liz Kennedy:

are motivated and like, Okay, this, I can see this actually,

Liz Kennedy:

really, I can see myself interviewing for this position.

Liz Kennedy:

If you can see yourself interviewing for the position,

Liz Kennedy:

just go go full guns on it, you know, like, do a cover letter,

Liz Kennedy:

do a good resume, you know, like, organize your resume. So

Liz Kennedy:

that immediately fits the criteria that they're looking

Liz Kennedy:

for, as best you can. And, you know, reach out to someone at

Liz Kennedy:

the company over LinkedIn, say, hey, I'm interested in this

Liz Kennedy:

position. I submitted my resume, I want to, I want to, if you

Liz Kennedy:

could tell me more about the position, I'd love to hear about

Liz Kennedy:

it, you know, things like that.

Dan Holterhaus:

Yeah, I love it. I was just thinking, as you were

Dan Holterhaus:

saying that, um, I think in your cover letter, you know, we

Dan Holterhaus:

talked, we talked about just describing your, you know,

Dan Holterhaus:

proudest achievement. But what if you get really descriptive

Dan Holterhaus:

with it, too. So I'm just thinking back to like, you know,

Dan Holterhaus:

my example is like golf. But what if I let off you know,

Dan Holterhaus:

like, you know, dear, you know, so and so, you know, my palms

Dan Holterhaus:

were sweaty as I stood over... Me, that's not the right

Dan Holterhaus:

example. But when, what would you say? Like, would that be a

Dan Holterhaus:

really, you know, good descriptive with what you're

Dan Holterhaus:

trying to say, go into detail? Oh,

Liz Kennedy:

That's interesting. It might be worth it'd be worth

Liz Kennedy:

a shot. I think you kind of have to mirror the culture of the

Liz Kennedy:

company that you're applying for. And the HR person that's

Liz Kennedy:

reading that cover letter may not be the right person for that

Liz Kennedy:

cover letter. But I do you remember working at previous

Liz Kennedy:

companies, like when I worked at a marketing firm, like, there

Liz Kennedy:

was a cover letter that went around the office. Sure. And it

Liz Kennedy:

was like, have you read that? That's amazing. This was

Liz Kennedy:

amazing. And they did hire that person. So I never actually got

Liz Kennedy:

to see the cover letter, the infamous cover letter, but, you

Liz Kennedy:

know, it was it was something that went around and everybody

Liz Kennedy:

was like, really excited about it. So it can it could pay off

Liz Kennedy:

in a really good way, depending on the role that you're looking

Liz Kennedy:

for.

Dan Holterhaus:

Cool. I love it. Okay, any last words before we

Dan Holterhaus:

sign off careers & coffee? This week? Yeah,

Liz Kennedy:

I just think you know, keep at it guys. This is

Liz Kennedy:

this is a really rough time of February in Iowa. It's like the

Liz Kennedy:

winters giving everything of its last moments at us. And it just

Liz Kennedy:

it's easy to kind of look out the window and be like, nope,

Liz Kennedy:

not today. But if you keep at it, there's a lot of roles that

Liz Kennedy:

are a lot of new postings that are happening every day in our

Liz Kennedy:

community. So if there's not something today, let's let's say

Liz Kennedy:

positive something something's gonna be around the corner for

Liz Kennedy:

you that's gonna fit your skills. So and if you don't say

Liz Kennedy:

anything, reach out let's let's let's work together and try to

Liz Kennedy:

figure something out for you.

Dan Holterhaus:

Yeah, you bet. Okay, was thanks a lot. Cheers.

Dan Holterhaus:

Have a good rest of the afternoon.

Liz Kennedy:

You too, Dan. Talk to you soon.