Should we even bother writing cover letters any more?
This is the million dollar question you may be asking yourself just as you are about to apply for your next job.
It’s a valid question because you’re wondering if recruiters are even reading cover letters anymore.
We get mixed answers when we ask recruiters if they bother with cover letters. Some ignore them completely. Some half-heartedly read them first or last. Some even say that they ignore the resumé if there isn’t a cover letter attached.
Regardless, the smart thing to do is to not take any chances. Attaching a cover letter to your resumé is a must.
But you’ve heard it’s important to – here comes that word again – customize the cover letter for every application.
“Aaargh! Not another customization. It’s hard enough customizing the resumé. Now I’ve got to customize the cover letter too?”
I know, it’s annoying. Yet it’s a unavoidable struggle you must go through if you want your application to stand out.
But what if I told you there was a way to customize your cover letter by “copy-pasting” what’s on the job description, and still impress the recruiter?
Yes, there is a special type of cover letter that allows you to do this. You don’t need exceptional writing skills, you don’t need to spend a lot of time agonizing over how to customize it. And it will still grab the recruiter’s attention.
This cover letter is called the T-Type Cover Letter.
In this post, you are going to learn how you can create this special type of cover letter that will certainly motivate recruiters to give your resumé a good read, and get shortlisted for the interview.
The First Time I Experimented with a T-Type Cover Letter
I remembered I was still in Dubai, just a couple of months away from migrating to Canada.
While preparing for my upcoming job search, I came across the T-Type cover letter from a book called Knock ‘Em Dead by Martin Yate.
At the time, I was registered with a particular recruitment agency in Dubai for years. I’ve always applied to jobs they posted, but never heard back.
Just then, another posting just came up which I felt I would be a good fit for. Since I was moving to Canada in a couple of months, I had no intention of changing jobs now.
But I wanted to give this new T-Type cover letter a shot, just to see if it actually worked.
So I applied, attached the T-Type cover letter to the application, and never gave it a second thought.
And wouldn’t you know it, three days later, I got a call from the recruiter. She wanted to meet me for an interview.
You can only imagine my surprise. With no intention of moving jobs so close to my migration date, I thought to myself “What the heck. Let’s just go for some interview practice.”
At the end of the interview, I asked her “I’m curious to know, I’ve been applying for jobs at your organization for years. How come you took interest in my application now?”
She replied, “Honestly, it was because of your cover letter. You just seemed like the perfect fit. In fact, I didn’t even read your resumé.”
Since then, I’ve been using T-Type cover letters for my applications in Canada. And as you know, it’s worked out pretty well for me and my students.
But First, Take Caution
Before we dive in, know this.
The T-Type cover letter format is primarily designed for recruiters. Why? Because recruiters are looking for a perfect match to the job description.
So anything that makes their job easier will work for them. You’ll soon discover why a T-Type cover letter does this.
A traditional cover letter format that would go directly to the hiring manager has a Hook-Problem-Solution format, where you define an industry-specific problem and how you have the solution.
This is something a recruiter may not understand as they may not have technical knowledge of your field.
All they know is what’s in the job description they designed with the hiring manager. To them, it’s a match-making exercise.
And the T-type cover letter shows how you are the perfect match.
What is a T-Type Cover Letter?
As the name suggests, it’s a cover letter that’s designed in a “T” format.
Imagine a “T” in the body of your cover letter.
Above the top horizontal line you have your “hook”. This is an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention, and a statement about why you’re applying for this job.
Now we move down to the vertical line, and this is where the magic happens.
To the left of the horizontal line are key requirements from the job description. To the right are your qualifications that match those key points.
Are you going to list every single bullet point from the job description? Of course not. So how do you choose?
A good mix of responsibilities, hard skills and soft skills would be perfect.
Make sure you choose the responsibilities at the top of the job description along with the most common hard and soft skills.
After you’ve matched the job description to your qualifications, end with a strong call to action.
Below is a sample of a T-type cover letter. The red lines represent your imaginary “T” and is for illustration purposes only.
The Shortcut to The Shortlist
Most job seekers in Canada aren’t aware of this cover letter technique. But if you’re reading this post, I’m assuming you’re not like most job seekers.
This is yet another secret weapon you have in your job seeking arsenal to get more job interviews and beat your competition to the job.
Don’t underestimate the power of cover letters. They are more vital to your job search than you think.
While your resumé’s job is to explain how you are a good fit for the job, the cover letter explains why.
And believe me, why you want the job is just as important to the recruiter and hiring manager.