There’s a lot of good advice on how to find a new job, how to write a better cover letter, and how to land a remote job. But tips on how to put that all together — writing a cover letter to find a new remote job — those are a little harder to come by.
If only we could live in a hiring manager’s inbox and study what actually works. Since that’s not plausible, the next best course of action is to follow the wise words of those willing to share.
“A cover letter might not always be the most important thing to a hiring manager, but if your resume or connections aren’t enough to get you through the door, a powerful cover letter could be the factor that gets you an interview.”
This is particularly true for remote applicants. Given that the hiring manager may have cast a wide net (around the world), it’s going to take more than your resume to get past the first round of screening.
“The cover letter gives you a chance you don’t really have with your resume: the opportunity to show a bit of your personality. The resume is a ruthless, efficient snapshot of your professional accomplishments. The cover letter is more of a conversation between you and the reader.”
Cover letter examples are a dime a dozen and it’s easy to google a template that will help you get started. This isn’t what’s going to deliver results. Writing a cover letter to land a remote job requires strategy and foresight.
With that, let’s get to it…
1) Be Concise
Hiring managers are short on time and need help. That’s likely why they’re posting a job in the first place. The hard truth is that most people skim a cover letter at best. Let’s take a moment to let that sink in.
“This is your chance to grab that prospective employer’s attention with an unforgettable elevator pitch. Your effort will not be wasted, especially when you land the interview at a company you are interested in working with.”
Don’t blow this opportunity with a bad elevator pitch. If you want your cover letter to get the attention it deserves, make sure it’s direct and concise. It’s your chance to make a first impression on someone (who you might not ever meet in person).
“Cover letters don’t need to be long. In fact, all a lengthy letter will do is make the reader’s eyes glaze over. A few paragraphs are plenty, and your letter should never be longer than a single page. If your letter is too long don’t use a smaller font, edit and cut words instead.”
You need to hit the ground running within the first one or two sentences. Full throttle.
2) Make It Personalized
While it may be tempting to throw something together quickly, doing so could seriously hurt your chances at landing an interview.
“Now, I know that finding a new job is difficult. And you probably have limited time each day to work on your search. Sometimes in a rush to land something new, you may fire off a quick note without giving it much thought. But the quick-fire approach rarely yields positive results.”
An effective cover letter for a remote job needs to be personalized. If you copy and paste a templated cover letter, that will be the first thing that shines through.
“Tailoring resumes is a subtle art, but cover letters are where you can really get creative when showing your fit and enthusiasm for a position. Don’t waste this chance to make a lasting impression by just telling the hiring manager what he or she already knows.”
Cover letter writing is not supposed to be a lost art. Employers still expect them. Investing time in crafting and personalizing your cover letter will help you get to the next step.
3) Address It To A Human Being
You should address your cover letter to a real person. That might mean taking your best guess on who that actually is.
“Not one employee at your future new company is named “To Whom it May Concern,” so knock that off. You’ve got to find a real person to whom you can direct this thing.”
If you’re really interested in a remote job posting, the next step is to do a bit of quick research on who works there (thanks LinkedIn!)
“If you do your research and aren’t confident you found the right name, then you should definitely use the generic greeting — but if you are sure, then it shows you put in the effort to find their name and it will catch the recruiter’s eye.”
There’s a good chance you’ll be able to find out the first name of the person vetting your cover letter. If not, address it to the department who you want to read it.
4) Be Clear And Polished
Make it clear that you’ve read the job ad. Let them know about your (remote) work experience. Any research you’ve done on the company should come across in a polished fashion.
“A company needs to know that you have read their advertisement, understand why they’re hiring and are confident you could do well in their team. Include points about the company’s brand, their clients, their market – this let’s the reader know you’ve taken the time to get to know what they do, and that you’d be committed to their goals.”
Reference the name of the position and triple check every word. When you’ve proofread the final document, send yourself an email copy. This allows you to do a final check on formatting and links.
“After you’ve given your cover letter a final polish, ask a friend with excellent grammar, punctuation and spelling skills to review it. Consider providing a copy of the job posting so your friend can make sure you’ve hit all the right points.”
This isn’t a traditional letter and shouldn’t read like one. Don’t shy away from formatting using bullet points. Every word counts.
5) Add Originality
Traditional cover letter templates tend to come off as a bit dated. Keep things lean and mean. Skip flowery language and unneeded gushing.
“Skip effusive thanks and demonstrate genuine interest by writing a cover letter that connects the dots between your experience and the requirements of the position. Telling the reader what you’ve accomplished and how it directly translates to meeting the company’s needs is always a better use of space than gushing.”
Make sure to stand out from the crowd by adding information that shows your originality and hustle. Include relevant work experience that highlights how you would add value. Let the reader know about your drive.
“Smart people want to hire people who hustle. So I determined how to stand out from hundreds of other applicants.”
It might be uncomfortable to stray away from a template but this is what’s needed if you want to stand out. Be authentic and highlight your skills in a way that makes you shine.
Here are 5 powerful strategies to use when writing a cover letter for a remote position:
- Be Concise: Keep things short and sweet.
- Be Personal: Spend a few extra minutes making extra tweaks.
- Be Human: Address a real person whenever possible.
- Be Clear: Make it clear that you’re interested in the role. Double check everything.
- Be Original: Add originality and show how you will uniquely add value.
The main takeaway is that an actual human will be reading this letter. Humans need to be persuaded.
“The problem is that the human brain is not a purely rational computer. And when we ignore that, even the best of efforts to convince others can fall flat.”
Go a step beyond good grammar and action verbs. With cover letters, you get a chance to infuse some personality at this first, critical touch point. Don’t just cut and paste and call it a day.