Generally, Cover Letters should be omitted unless they’re specifically asked for, or contain critical information that is not included in your resume. Most employers utilize technology to scan resumes for Keywords. Cover Letters often are not included in this process. If you do include one, keep it short, to the point, and factual.
Here are some tips on creating a powerful Cover Letter:
- Complement, don’t duplicate, your Resume
Your Cover Letter is your initial contact with a prospective employer. It should identify your most relevant skills and experience (which are determined by the employer’s self- interest). Highlight only the most pertinent areas of your resume so that a Hiring Manager will be enticed to give your resume a full review.
Make sure you answer all the questions brought in the job posting. Do not have the employer or recruiter need to chase you down in order to get information they requested. More often than not, they will not follow up.
- Don’t duplicate Cover Letters
For each position you apply, and where a Cover Letter is requested, create a new, individual Cover Letter. No two jobs are alike, and a Hiring Manager will recognize a letter that wasn’t designed specifically for the posted job. Demonstrate that you did your homework by identifying the job specific requirements.
- Explain your interest in the company
Job seekers often will send out cover letters and resumes en masse. Illustrate to the Hiring Manager why you are interested in the company. Is it because of their Teamwork approach to solving problems and meeting challenges? Is it the autonomy that is offered in the performance of the job? Maybe it is more challenging than your previous employment and your experience will bring value to the organization.
- Keep your Cover Letter efficient
Try to keep your Cover Letter between 2 and 3 paragraphs. Use powerful, descriptive words that paint a picture for the Hiring Manager to envision. Your goal is to have your resume read so that the employer can make the determination to schedule an interview. Avoid long, run-on sentences. Structure the cover letter to reflect your individuality, but avoid appearing too familiar, overbearing, humorous or cute. Including some bullets to reinforce your resume is a good idea as it breaks up the cover letter and makes it easier to read.
- Ask for an interview
Your cover letter should be used to highlight your strengths and achievements, sell your skills and show the potential employer you are worthy of an interview. In your final paragraph, ask the employer for an opportunity to interview for the position. Explain that you desire to respond to further inquiries related to your skills and experience, and that you are available at their convenience. Inform the reader that you will follow-through with a telephone call (within 3 days of submitting your Cover Letter and Resume) to facilitate the process.
- Check your Cover Letter for errors
It is most important that you not only run a “Spell-Check”, but that you review the spelling of every word that a spell-check might miss (they’re/their/there, etc). Be certain that your grammar is impeccable and that all punctuation is in order. Have a friend or associate review your letter. Don’t present your letter until you are absolutely certain it is perfect. Remember to include your contact information at the bottom of your cover letter.
- Do include your professional website address
Do include your website address in your cover letter as an invitation to the reviewer to take the moment to find out more about you or to view your testimonials. If you do not have a personalized website address talking about your unique skills and abilities, we recommend you visit Loops Journal to get your FREE job seeker website.
- Do not use standard, overused opening sentences
Do not use a boring opening statement, like “In regard to your ______ position, I would like to submit my resume…” Rather, take this opening statement to make a statement of who you are and what makes you unique. A suggestion might look something like, “Recognized as a top-performer, my record includes generating a 58% increase in new business and boosting partnerships by 50% in a three-year period.” Also, whenever possible, address the cover letter to a specific person by name and title. This requires a minimum of research that will ultimately pay off in more interviews. The only time this may not be possible is when responding to a “blind ad” where there is no way to know the name of the company to research. In this case, send the letter to the title of the appropriate hiring manager, e.g. “Production Manager”, “Maintenance Supervisor”, “Office Manager”, etc. Never use the phrase “To Whom It May Concern”.
- Remember the following
- Consider signing the letter in blue ink. It implies the letter is original. The only other ink color to use is black. Never use any other color on the cover letter.
- The paper and style of your cover letter should complement your resume. You might consider using the same paper stock for both your cover letter and resume.
Your Cover Letter should compliment your resume, not overpower it. Remember to keep it short, simple, and to the point. Your main objective is to get the attention of the employer so that an interview opportunity is presented.