Once you find your ideal position after months on a job search, all you have to do is polish your resume and land the interview, and the opening is as good as yours. However, you have to create a customized cover letter before hiring managers even bother to look at your resume.
After someone approves of your resume, then you get the interview — but it all starts with the cover letter. Without a viable story that introduces you and explains why you're the ideal candidate and how you fit in with the company, your resume does not even get a first glance by many recruiters. Imagine your correspondence as a sales page that lists your best qualities in a paragraph format. That's what you need to show to a prospective employer to begin your story.
Create an effective cover letter by tailoring your document to the position for which you're applying. When the job posting lists the qualities needed by an ideal candidate, clearly state that you possess these qualities and expound on how you obtained these qualifications. If you need to be passionate about a company's products for a sales position, relate a personal story about how you came to know the brand in the first place.
Attempt to use the same keywords in your cover letter that the firm uses in the job description. Keyword filtering software notices these correlations and passes that information along to human resources personnel. Matching your skills, talents and abilities with the attributes listed on a job description make you stand out from the pack as long as you can back it up later with references and documents that support your claims.
Write your cover letter in the same tone as the company line. Research the firm's mission statement, goals, history and culture. If you find that the company is fun and innovative, strike a similar tone with your introductory letter. Likewise, if the company has a long history and tradition of professionalism, customize your story to those principles.
One unique way to stand out from the pack is to use technology to create a nontraditional introduction. Within your letter, link to your online work and a short video about yourself. Showing someone your past work validates your abilities and skills. A video introduction, posted privately to a video-sharing website, allows recruiters to see your personality in a quick, one-minute sound bite. Add an infographic to your letter to break up the monotony of block letters. A good visual grabs attention and makes a hiring manager take another look at your work.
The cover letter serves as the appetizer for your job search before recruiters reach the main course of your resume. Perfect that first taste to ensure hiring managers move onto the meal before landing the all-important interview.
Photo courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net