Why is it that career seekers spend numerous hours creating their resumes and then treat their cover letters like the forgotten stepchild? The cover letter is a critical element to your career search package. This all important document should complement your resume as part of your submission for a new opportunity Here are some helpful hints to help your cover letter work for you.
The Cardinal Sin: Try never to use ‘To whom it may concern’ in your cover letter. Get the name of a person and address the letter accordingly. Nothing is more impersonal than this unconcerned opening. It clearly demonstrates that you did no research and ‘mailed it in’. Making some phone calls and / or doing some research online should help you uncover a name.
Get to the Point: Hiring managers do not have the time or inclination to read through a mini tome. Your cover is not the chance to review all of your professional history in narrative format. Keep your cover letter to the point. You still need to engage the reader; so, make sure that you provide relevant examples. Be sure to include a short paragraph regarding why you are interested in the company or position. This should come from your research and will demonstrate to the reader that you have a clear and compelling reason for applying. Help the reader get to know you a little bit – what you can offer them. The letter should focus on how you can add value for the organization, not what they can do for you.
Applying to an Email Address: If you are sending your resume and cover letter via email, make the cover letter the body of the email. This will alleviate the reader from having to open two Word documents. Treat the email as if you were drafting a formal letter. This means that you should have the date in the left hand corner and the appropriate information, including name, title, company, and appropriate greeting followed by the body of the letter.
Check your Work: Errors on your cover letter will certainly not generate response (This goes for the resume too). Make sure everything is error free. You must make sure the grammar, spelling, and sentence structure is correct. Do not rush through proofreading your work. That will surely result in errors. Proofing not your strength? Get someone else to look at it for you.
Generic Cover Letters Don’t Work: This is not ‘one size fits all’. Your cover letter should be tailored to meet the needs of a position and employer. You want to inspire the reader to call you for the interview. Your cover letter complemented by your resume serves as marketing tools. Present yourself as a well-rounded candidate with the appropriate blend of skills and results to make you stand out. Help the reader get to know you a little bit in the letter. Present a picture of who you are.
Make sure your cover letter works for you. This means that you will need to dedicate the time necessary to drafting a document that makes an impact. The extra effort, research, and diligence will likely pay off with the call for an interview.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC For more career related information and tips visit us at: http://careersdonewrite.com. Here’s to you career success!