A cover letter that accurately illustrates your professional capabilities and potential is your in to landing that interview. While you can entice the recruiter’s curiosity with a unique opener, you need to keep their attention by highlighting specific skills in your cover letter.
You might be asking yourself why including skills on your cover letter is necessary, and the answer is simple: because your resume and cover letter go hand in hand. Cover letters are meant to highlight your strongest, most relevant skills from your resume through talking up your experience and giving examples. They give the employer a look into your personality, thought process and experience level in hopes of landing an interview.
The best skills are the ones that are highly adaptable and transferable to suit whatever new role or challenge comes your way! Consider adding some of these soft and hard skills in your next application!
Skills to Include in Your Cover Letter
1 – Communication
In fashion, or any industry, nothing moves without communication, therefore strong verbal and written communication skills are always an asset. Whether you’re applying to be a buyer, editor, merchandiser or work in public relations, social media or digital marketing, you will need to demonstrate yourself as an efficient communicator. In your cover letter, describe how you’ve been able to communicate across teams, on multiple levels of an organization or through visual mediums with examples of previous work.
2 – Teamwork
A solid team works collaboratively towards a common goal. For jobs in teamwork settings, employers love a team player who knows how to work both independently and within a team setting. Your resume may not be the place to mention this particular soft skill, however your cover letter gives you the perfect occasion to give concrete details on how you’ve worked together with others to get the job done. For example, stylist and designer cover letters could explain working with a production or tech team to deliver a project by a certain deadline.
3 – Strong Work Ethic
Work ethic goes a long way. Managers want to trust their employee to be thorough while carrying out their duties. There are many ways to convey that you value work ethic, and a brief mention is all it takes. Here’s an example: recall a time when you were in an entry level position, such as fashion assistant, and were proactive by showing initiative and contributing fresh ideas which, in turn, landed you a promotion with some specialized responsibilities.
4 – Time Management
Perhaps one of the most under-rated skills to include in a cover letter is management of time. Needless to say, the ability to work on and meet timely deadlines is still highly sought after by recruiters and hiring managers alike. Infuse your cover letter with an example of how you’ve consistently met tight deadlines, juggled multiple assignments and accomplished projects before the due date to really stand out.
5 – Technology
Up to now, we explored ways you can include some of the staple soft skills in your cover letter, but with our ever-changing world and workforce, you’ll want to underline certain “new school” hard skills skills that offer high value for hiring managers. Experience with technology and software is one of those skills that must be highlighted in your cover letter. If you have previously made use of the Adobe Creative Cloud, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads or SEO tools, provide context as to how you used these programs within your role. A fashion editor, for instance, may have worked closely with the SEO team on ideas and optimization to create content that ranks highly in searches and have monitored Google Analytics to understand what content works and what doesn’t.
6 – Professional Metrics
Describing your skills and experiences through words alone can make it hard for recruiters to differentiate you from others, but quantifying it with numbers breaks it down for them with more ease. Refer back to your previous KPIs from quarter to quarter and add those specifics to your letter to depict how you’ve shown improvement over time and brought quantifiable value within your previous role. This also shows that you care enough to pay attention to what the data says and means, and are willing to challenge yourself to reach and surpass performance objectives.
Even if you no longer have access to this information, you can always incorporate meaningful metrics by emphasizing how many months it took you to complete a certain project, how many team members you managed, how much money you saved by delivering a project under budget, etc.
What to Leave Out from Your Cover Letter
We’ve shown you the “do’s”, now for the “don’ts”. Style Nine to Five recently shared what to leave off your resume, so it’s only fair that we also discuss what to exclude from your cover letter to make sure your entire application package is sharp.
1 – Microsoft Office
The Office Suite and every program in it – Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc. – is pretty standard at this point and should already be listed somewhere on your resume. If you don’t already know Microsoft Office, it’s time to watch some YouTube tutorials to get familiar with these programs. Keep this information in your resume so that you have more space in your cover letter for relevant skills and experience that are more impressive.
2 – Resume Repetition
While your resume and cover letter are closely linked, the cover letter should give new information and further context to your experiences and skills. This is your first chance to really sell yourself to the hiring manager, introduce yourself and make a lasting first impression. Make sure to use this occasion to put all your best assets forward and not to repeat what they may already know.
3 – Experience that is Untrue
We’ve covered a few different skills in this article, however they may not all apply to you or the job you are applying for. Never include qualifications or experience that is untrue. Only mention skills if you actually have experience with them. Remember that everything that is in your cover letter will be discussed during your interview, therefore you will need to be able to refer back to real life examples of your experiences.
To this effect, be sure to give specifics from your real-life experiences in your cover letter along with talking about your skills to paint a full picture of what you’d be capable of in this new role.
Not hearing back after sending out job applications? Perhaps what you need is Style Nine to Five’s Resume Refresh with our Founder, Christie Lohr, to help you stand out and get that job with a brand new CV!
Anita Hosanna is a freelance fashion stylist and creative consultant with a love for community, fashion journalism and fashion tech.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock