Cover letters are often mistaken for mere summaries of your qualifications. But, if done well, they can be powerful marketing tools for your candidacy that show you have the knowledge and experience necessary to excel in a job position. When organizations from a pool of qualified candidates fill open positions, they will sort through them based on information gleaned from the cover letters.
1. Address the Hiring Manager Personally
Avoid using “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” You want to ensure your cover letter gets to the manager about whom you are writing. If you mail an anonymous cover letter to someone who may be in charge of hiring, it’s unlikely that person will even bother to read it.
2. Stand Out From the Start and Don’t Fall Back on a Generic Introduction
Make a strong opening statement that shows an interest in the position. It could be a direct quote from the job listing or your networking research, but it should be something to grab the reader’s attention. If you can personalize it, all the better.
3. Address Gaps in Your Resume or Risk Seeming Suspicious
Address information that is not in your resume in a brief paragraph highlighting how and why you’re qualified for the position. It will make you look like an informed and enthusiastic job applicant rather than someone who is merely copying information from the job description. If you’re unsure how to proceed, it’s best to reach out to professional cover letter writers.
4. Answer the Three Critical Questions a Hiring Manager Might Ask Herself During the First Pass of Your Cover Letter
Why are you writing? What’s in it for you? Why me? The answer to the first question should be clear — to express your interest in a specific job. The second should tie in with what is your interest. For example, explain how this position will lead you to where you want to be if you’re applying for a career change. And for the final question, find a way to connect your resume directly to this manager’s needs and experience.
5. Don’t Waste Time Repeating the Contents of Your Resume
Your resume is the key to winning an interview. For example, the hiring manager may ask how many years of experience you have in a particular field, so include that important data in your cover letter. Don’t forget to highlight the accomplishments related to each position.
6. Prove Your Values and Passions Align with the Company’s Mission Statement
Don’t waste valuable space on things that don’t matter. You want to stand out as an individual, but not in a way that makes the hiring manager think you are uninterested in the company’s goals. Visit unemployedprofessors.com and have your resume written for you by a professional.
7. End With Your Elevator Pitch
The first sentence or two of your letters should be a one- or two-sentence summary of what is your interest. It is your “elevator pitch.” It should show that you understand the duties, qualifications and basic expectations associated with the job you seek and that you have already analyzed their relevance to your skills, abilities and experience.
If you can do these seven things, you will stand out from the pack in a way that will make it much easier to get an interview. Please don’t rely on the quality of your resume — let your cover letter stand up and speak for itself!