When planning a job search, most people give the lion’s share of attention to their resume. It’s natural; the resume is where you tally up your skills and experience. It’s the sum of who you are and what you offer. It’s your avatar in the job-hunting game.
But if you neglect your cover letter, you are making a big mistake. Because when your letter and resume come out of the envelope (or off the printer) and a secretary or intern staples them together and adds them to the pile, guess which one will be on top?
There’s a reason it’s called a cover letter.
If that letter doesn’t do a good and efficient job of communicating your skills, accomplishments and drive, as well as the many ways in which you will bring success to the company, the hiring manager who is evaluating candidates may never even see your resume. He or she will simply shuffle on to the next cover letter.
So what makes a great cover letter? What elements will make your letter stand out from the crowd?
- Keep it short. Three paragraphs. Don’t waste words on “I would like to be considered” or “please accept my application.” Every sentence in the letter should communicate your unique qualities: the mix of talents and experience you will bring to the job.
- Don’t summarize your resume. Instead, use the letter to highlight what you will do for the company (with past accomplishments referenced as supporting evidence).
- Don’t be afraid to project a little personality. Nobody wants to hire a robot or a bore. Nor will they remember a boring letter. Your language should be conversational while conveying passion.
- Tell a story. Where have you been, and how have your experiences and goals brought you inexorably to this time and place? It’s a hero’s journey, and you are here with your unique talents and skills to slay the dragon of whatever it is that this hiring manager and company needs. You possess the solution to their problem. If you and the hiring manager have a mutual contact, mention him or her by name. This alone will get your letter a second look.
- Finish strong. Don’t thank them for the time they have taken to peruse your resume—tell them, instead, that you are confident that you can help advance the company’s success, and that you will call them to arrange a time to talk.
When you’re ready to put your best foot forward, contact Professional Staffing Group. Our expertise is understanding yours.