Writing a cover letter for a resume is difficult for most people. Not only is it difficult to talk about yourself, you can spend a lot of time refining before finally producing a copy that hits the mark. That is why job seekers often do not take the time to even write a cover letter. This is the biggest mistake job seekers can make, as well-written cover letters prove very influential in swaying a Human Resource manager.
To ensure you get every opportunity to secure a job interview, not only should you write a cover letter, but also follow these tips to get the most out of it.
The First Sentence is the Most Important Sentence
As is the case with resumes and interviews, capturing and holding the reader’s attention is crucial, making the first sentence the most important one. You have approximately 15-seconds to stand out before the reader loses attention, so make good use of your time.
Your first sentence should be a strong statement of your top skills and experience and what they would bring to the job. Don’t waste your opening sentence explaining that you are applying for a job you found on the company website.
Poorly written, generic cover letters that you send to all potential employers simply do not cut it. Specifics are what most hiring managers are looking for - specifics regarding your skills, experience and your achievements thus far in your career. Your achievements are of particular importance. Use your past achievements to paint a picture of a proven track record. Use short sentences to highlight these successes.
The Cover Letter as a Demonstration
Cover letters serve as more than just an avenue for job seekers to set themselves apart, or allow employers to weed out whose skills fit the job description and whose do not. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate your writing and communication skills. Everything from writing style and tone to your choice of words gives some insight into your character, and perhaps how well you would fit into the company’s culture.
Address the Qualifications of the Job
Many applicants do not directly address the list of qualifications outlined in the job listing. Rather, they just state their skills, experiences and achievements and leave it to the reader to connect those points to the job being offered. This is a quick way to drop your resume to the bottom of the pile. Job advertisements state qualifications for a reason. If you specifically address those qualifications and demonstrate how your skills and experience are related, you will be in a much better positions to secure an interview.
You might be surprised at the number of good candidates who are overlooked because of an error in their cover letter or resume. If you don’t proofread your cover letter and resume before sending them, that oversight could cost you the job. In addition to making sure you have no spelling or grammatical errors or typos, make sure that you have used a font that is pleasing to the eye and easy to read (i.e. not too small). This is especially important if you are sending your cover letter and resume by fax.
Lastly, remember to include the same contact information used on your resume on your cover letter as well. Cover letters can mistakenly get separated from resumes and consequently lost. Make sure you have included your name, address, home or cell phone number and e-mail address.