A great cover letter is a necessary part of any job application. Too often, job seekers assume the cover letter is simply a summary of their resume in paragraph form, but there is much more to it. Consider these tips to help you craft a professional letter that makes a great impression.
Starting your cover letter with "To Whom it May Concern" is a surefire way to get your application ignored. Do your research to find out who is likely to conduct the job interview; address your letter to that specific person. If it is a few individuals, address separate letters to each one to cover all your bases. It shows you're willing to go the extra mile to get the information you need. In addition to using a customized addressee, be sure your letter references the specific job title, including any reference numbers. The last thing hiring managers want is to have to guess why you're writing them.
Often, your cover letter is what hiring managers use to decide whether they want to meet you in person for a job interview. Don't allow your cover letter to be a tired regurgitation of your resume. This is your time to shine; express yourself professionally and passionately. Talk about how you came to know your industry, and discuss the skills and accomplishments that make you a great match for the job. Don't be afraid to appear enthusiastic about this new opportunity.
Ask for the Interview
The whole purpose of your cover letter is to get you in the door for an interview. Don't be afraid to ask for it! It is a direct question that many candidates might feel uncomfortable asking, but in most cases, the hiring manager appreciates the forwardness. It demonstrates your enthusiasm and determination and provides a call to action for the hiring manager's response.
Keep it Short
Keep your cover letter under one page. You don't want to appear long-winded to busy hiring managers who only have time to skim your letter anyway. Three or four carefully worded, detailed paragraphs should be sufficient to introduce yourself and explain why they should meet you.
You can create the most compelling cover letter ever written, but it means nothing if there are spelling or grammatical errors in it. A poorly edited letter makes you look careless. Using your computer's spell-checker isn't enough; allow a colleague or friend to edit and proofread the document for you, and read your letter out loud so you can hear how the words flow.
Your cover letter is designed to introduce you to hiring managers and convince them to want to meet you. It should never be regarded as second fiddle to your resume, although the two should complement each other. Follow this advice to create a great cover letter that highlights your skills and achievements and gets your foot in the door.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net