Cover letters have commonly been used as a way to introduce yourself and make a positive first impression on hiring managers. But more companies are looking for ways to streamline their recruiting process and some no longer require cover letters because they are too time consuming to read. As construction recruiters, we get asked regularly about whether you still need cover letters. Our best answer is that it depends on the situation. If you are asked for a cover letter, then be sure you customize it to the role and company. Here are some other cover letter guidelines to keep in mind.

  • Don’t use a standardized template that you send to everyone.

    There are hundreds of cover letter templates online, and even though it is acceptable to use them for inspiration, it’s important to customize each letter to the company and position. Generic cover letters are red flags to hiring managers. If you can’t take the time to speak directly to the position at hand, it does not reflect well on your desire or focus. Make your cover letter personalized or don’t send it at all. Doing it wrong can hurt you. They won’t even get to your resume if you introduce yourself with a boilerplate letter.

  • Re-read the job description and look at the main points they are looking for.

    Write about your accomplishments in those areas. Get a strong understanding of what that position entails. Look on their website, talk to current or former employees, etc. Don’t just depend on the job description because sometimes they are outdated descriptions that they are re-using. Take the initiative to review LinkedIn and social channels to see what other employees in that role have accomplished.

  • Customize the cover letter and hit on the keywords that are important to that position.

    More companies are investing in AI screening tools to filter out applications that don’t include essential keywords.

  • Don’t labor over it and go into too much detail.

    Short but strong cover letters are more effective. Highlight your top skills that also match the specific role you are applying for. Cover letters that are too long and involved could be a detriment that knocks you out of the pipeline.

  • Give more attention to your resume; make it easy to read and informative.

    Your resume is essentially a sales letter that needs to focus on your most important professional accomplishments that make you stand out from other candidates. It should be easy to navigate and punctuate your best traits and achievements.

Cover letters are also a great way to differentiate yourself right away. If you’re not receiving interviews, then your cover letter may be too generic. Your cover letter should use a laser approach to focus on why you are an ideal fit for the position. Then, tailor your resume to the specific role. Remember to track who you sent each customized resume and cover letter. Once you have an interview, make sure you know which one you sent each firm.



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