Cover letters have a strategy to them! And that strategy requires research. Spend some time learning more about the company and the specific job you want. Copy and paste the job description onto an empty document and carefully read it – front to back, up and down – and be prepared to use your touchpad to highlight the most important skills, responsibilities, and values. Focusing your attention on this language is crucial to writing your cover letter because when you submit, the first review is usually done using an automated system called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that's looking for words or phrases mentioned in the job description. 🙋♀️ How do you know what's the most important though? Our advice is to focus on anything repeated multiple times, the beginning bullets of the job responsibilities (usually those are the most essential duties), and any specific skills they're looking for.
Don't just stop there though. Peruse the company's website, paying special attention to their values and mission (this usually can be found on the about page). You can also Google the company and see if there's any company or industry news that you can reference. (Don't panic, this may take some time at first, but eventually you'll be a pro and breeze through this. It gets easier with practice!)
Before writing your cover letter, consider reaching out to someone who works at the company – maybe an old classmate or a mentor. Send an email or a LinkedIn message with a specific question about the job (check out our templates!). Try to make the question worth answering – for example, don't ask if they have summer Fridays or any basic question that can be answered by reading the job description. Even though ATS will be the first pair of (automated) eyes on your cover letter, a real live human will eventually read it. And it'll look really good to a recruiter that you're able to reference this interaction. You might say: "I recently spoke to so-and-so at your company." We know it's not always possible to reach out to someone, nor will they always respond, but it's worth a shot