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 component to your career
search package and can help you stand out from the crowd. Here are
some helpful hints to help your cover letter work for you.
The cardinal sin
You should never 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.
If you are sending your resume and cover letter via email, you
can 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.