Cover letter writing may seem like a necessary evil when you are looking for work, but it is no less important than preparing your resume. Taking the time to craft your cover letter well will increase your chances of getting that all-important interview – and a job offer. Here are some short, sweet, and to the point cover letter writing tips to chew on to help you reach your goal.
1. Cover Letter Format:
Use a basic block style format that is easy to follow and always looks professional. Once you’ve got the basics, you need to include an explanation (why are you writing it), who are you and why they should look at your resume. Technical format is as important as well.
2. Dear Hiring Manager (not recommended):
Do some research and try to get the name of the senior managers (or head of HR) and address your cover letter directly to them. Leverage LinkedIn, articles on the company and company annual reports to get some specific names. If you don’t have the person’s name you could use, “Dear Sir or Madam.”, but generic cover letters do not get much attention. If your Internet search fails, it’s worthwhile to make a phone call to the company to find out the name of the person you should be addressing your correspondence to and the correct spelling of his or her name if you are not sure.
3. Why They Should Hire You:
The hiring manager is looking for someone who can increase earnings, improve processes or save the company money. While a cover letter should be short (your resume tells the full story), you want to get the hiring manager’s attention. Be sure to include highlights about your experience that is specific to the company or industry.
4. Be honest:
Don’t put anything in your cover letter that is not true and that you can’t back up. If the employer finds out that you lied, you’re finished even before you have a chance to be interviewed. You can even be fired if the company finds out that you lied on your application after you land the job, so be very careful when you are presenting yourself to an employer.
5. Keep it Short:
Remember, this is a cover letter designed to get the hiring manager’s attention so that they will read your resume. Don’t go over one page. Your goal is to encourage the hiring manager to invite you for a personal interview, not eliminate the necessity for one.
6. Tell Them Why You Are Applying:
Hiring managers see hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes and cover letters. Don’t make the person guess which job you would like to be considered for when you apply. If you are responding to an ad, use the exact title so the hiring manager can match your cover letter to the position. In many cases, resumes and cover letters are sorted by computer software and if yours doesn’t use the same keywords, it will be overlooked. In the event that you are presenting your resume but are not applying for a specific position, use a title that the manager will understand (such as Sales Manager or Shipping Supervisor).
7. Summarize your qualifications:
Tell the reader why you would be a stellar candidate for the position, without rehashing the contents of your resume. The cover letter is meant to encourage hiring manager to invite you to a meeting. Take this opportunity to convince him or her why getting face to face with you would be a good idea.
8. Follow-up Request:
At the end of your cover letter, indicate that you will follow-up with a phone call within a week. Make a note in your calendar, and be sure to follow up. To end your letter on a positive note, be sure to thank the reader for his or her consideration.
9. Proofread your writing:
Go over your letter in detail. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to take a look at it for you as well. You don’t want to leave anything to chance when you are introducing yourself to a potential employer. This is your chance to make a good impression, and writing with spelling and grammar errors will immediately relegate your application to the bottom of the pile. It won’t matter whether you have excellent skills or the right educational background for the job at that point.
10. Contact Info:
Forgetting to include your contact information is another detail that you may overlook. If you are mailing the letter, put pen to paper and sign it. In a case where you are emailing it or applying via a website, make sure you put your name at the bottom of your correspondence along with your cellphone number and email address.
We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.
Good luck in your search,