Research from the Society for Human Resource Management shows that HR staffers spend less than one minute reading a cover letter — that means every word counts. If you want your introduction to a future employer to succeed, try out these 11 tips to make your correspondence a compelling read.
1. Plan Ahead
Just like preparing for an interview, you need to plan out your cover letter. Determine how you should address the company and make the case for hiring you while promoting your personal brand.
2. Do Your Homework
Research the company thoroughly by examining the problems the company faces. Your job in a cover letter is to show how you solve an employer's problem in a few simple steps. Introduce the problem, show how your attributes solve the problem, and then request the next step.
3. Find a Name
Find out the name of the person you want to address in the cover letter. This is the person responsible for hiring you. In the first paragraph, you should also include the name of the person in the firm who recommended you for the position.
4. Create an Intro
Introduce yourself, and state the position for which you're applying. Mention in one short sentence why you're the ideal candidate. This is the spot where you include the name of your company networking contact.
5. Show What You Do
Spell out the precise skills that you bring to the position that solve the company's problem. Industry experts call this concept a pain letter, wherein you demonstrate how a problem (or a company's pain) affects a company's bottom line and then how your specific skill set alleviates the pain.
6. Quantify Your Talents
Employers love hard numbers that you can prove. Quantify your skills as much as possible. For example, state that your sales panache increased sales by 5 percent every quarter for 14 straight quarters. Your future employer should be able to call your previous supervisor and confirm these numbers.
7. Keep It Concise
Your introduction to the firm should remain as concise as possible. Get rid of any fluffy words, jargon, clichés and flowery language. Every word should prop up your skills as they relate to the company.
8. Evaluate What You Write
After you compose your letter, evaluate what you write. Does every word add value to your prospects of landing the position? Does your letter speak to an actual need the company has that you alone can solve?
9. Add a Call to Action
The end of your correspondence should have a call to action. This is where you wrap up the letter by saying, "Contact me to set up an interview time." This finishes your letter with confidence.
10. Make It Short
An email with an attached resume serves as a contemporary cover letter. Keep your letter to no more than two to three paragraphs with some bullet points sprinkled in between the paragraphs.
11. Have Someone Else Read It
Before sending your letter, have a second set of eyes read it. Every little bit helps.
A cover letter introduces you to a new employer. These 11 tips illustrate that candidates who write compelling pieces stand out from the crowd and gain more traction in a highly competitive job market.
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