Hiring managers use your cover letter to determine if you are a potential fit for their organizations. Unfortunately, many applicants make the mistake of writing cover letters that are nothing more than reformatted versions of their resumes, giving hiring managers no insight into their personality and skills. Instead of listing all of your job duties, use your cover letter to convey your personality and persuade hiring managers to make interviewing you a priority.
Most hiring managers do not read an entire cover letter if the first paragraph is not compelling. To write a successful cover letter, use your first sentence to get the hiring manager to want to know more about you. A good way to get attention is to mention one of your achievements in your opening line. If you reduced customer wait times or increased department output, mention it in the first sentence. The first paragraph is also a good place to mention any awards you have won, whether they were presented by your company or an industry organization.
If you are fairly new to the workforce, you might not have any professional achievements to list in the first paragraph of your cover letter. There are two ways to approach this issue. If someone in the company suggested you applied for the job, mention the referral in your opening line. If you did not receive a referral, write a strong opening sentence that tells the hiring manager why she should interview you.
Once you finish the first paragraph of your letter, write two to three paragraphs summarizing your skills and achievements. By reading these paragraphs, a hiring manager should be able to get a feel for your personality, so do not rely on overly formal language to get your point across. It is more important to be concise and specific than it is to show the hiring manager how big of a vocabulary you possess.
Applicants often make the mistake of using boilerplate text for their cover letters. If you want to stand out from the crowd, make sure every cover letter you send is customized for a particular job or industry. If you are applying for an administrative assistant job, for example, a successful cover letter should detail your ability to prioritize tasks, manage competing priorities and support executive-level employees. Use phrases from the job description to truly customize your letter for the job.
If you have the same skills and professional experiences as several other applicants, your cover letter is the one thing that stands between you and the opportunity to meet with the hiring manager. Strengthen your odds of getting the job by taking time to write a cover letter with an attention-getting first paragraph and several body paragraphs that make hiring managers want to learn more about your professional background.
Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net