We all know resumes are an important part of landing your next job. Looming in the shadows of the resume is the cover letter for most people, and it should not. A cover letter is a very important part of grabbing the readers attention and holding on to that attention with your resume. A cover letter is your chance to come across to the hiring managers with amazing intellect and gain enough interest so they go to your resume and give it the 30 seconds typically given. We'll give some tips that should allow a positive first impression with the cover letter and get your resume in front of the right person.
NEVER: To Whom It May Concern
Get a name. If you just send it addressed "To Whom It May Concern" chances are nobody is very concerned. Not you - for not taking the time to get the name of the person this resume should be in front of, the hiring manager - why do they want to hire someone so uncommitted? Call around, go online, call and extract this information from the secretary - do something to get a name and spell it correctly. This does a couple of things. It demonstrates your willingness to go the extra mile to the hiring manager and it gives you a name to follow up with (as your cover letter will state).
Short and Simple
A cover letter should be less than one page - always. No matter how much a jobseeker has to convey, there is never a time it is appropriate to send a cover letter that is more than one page. Stick to the facts. As you start your cover letter, think of looking at you from the hiring company's perspective. What differentiates you? Keep this in mind as you begin writing your cover letter. Now begin to introduce yourself. If you got the name by referral, say it: Bob Jones suggested I contact you in regards to the XYZ positions available with Coca- Cola, and I am submitting my resume for your review. If you got a recommendation from a club or organization with which you are affiliated, say that: As an active member of the local Chamber of Commerce, your organization was spoken of very highly and peaked my interest so I am submitting my resume for your review. It immediately differentiates you from the 100s of other letters right away. Always try to find that edge.
And You Are?
Make sure you do not add confusion for the hiring manager with a random cover letter and no actual strengths in the resume. Be sure to mention the job for which you are submitting your resume to bring clarity into the equation in the cover letter. Next explain the reason for your submission of the cover letter and resume in terms of your qualifications. Briefly give the reasons you are the perfect candidate for the position you are seeking. The hiring manager is looking for someone to fill a sales position and you have a tremendous background in sales - tell the reader. Not only demonstrate your sales ability in the resume, but also give numbers to validate your sales ability. Try to match what they ask for in their job posting. If they say - B2B sales a must. Be sure you include your experience in B2B in the cover letter. If experience in the healthcare field is a plus and you have that experience, be sure it is added. Make yourself the perfect candidate for the position based on what they posted (as much as you can with truth).
Close it with follow-up
After you have shown the hiring company the perfect candidate for their position through the body of your cover letter, you must keep the momentum and close strong. It is not uncommon to mention you will follow up on a specific day. Close with a take action plan. When are you calling them? How will you be in touch, e-mail or phone? Phoning is usually best. Then be sure you call them on the day you specify. That is the last chance you have to demonstrate your togetherness. Follow up with a call and get into that interview. That is where you'll be sure to further display your ability to be an asset to their company.
So put your best foot forward. Now that you have an idea of how to get started on that cover letter, pull up your old drafts, evaluate and tweak, taking the aforementioned into account, and impress your next employer. First impressions really are important, so be sure your cover letter is unforgettable for the right reasons.
Just a personal note to say that I just took on a new job - Director of Development for the Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut. There were 108 applicants and I came out in first place. The head of the search committee said that I was the "Superstar" of the field. There is no doubt that your work on my resume was a critical factor in my getting the interview. Additionally, when I went to the Connecticut Labor Department, they told me that my resume was one of the best ones that they had ever seen. My new board president emailed my resume to all the board members and several have called to say how happy they are to have me on board.
So thank you for your excellent work.