Do you hate to write cover letters when you apply for a job? Most people do. The truth is, however, that a great cover letter can make a real difference when an interviewer is deciding whom to call in for that all important meeting. Make your cover letter stand out by including the three vital elements every cover letter needs.
Cover letter introductions come in two forms. One is the actual introduction in which you get to say, "Jane Doe suggested I get in touch with you regarding the position you have open." When you have a connection to the company or the actual job interviewer, make sure you use it. A contact within the company is preferable, if you have one. If you don't, think through your contacts to see if you know someone who knows the interviewer or the boss you'd be working for personally. Make sure you have permission before you use someone's name in a cover letter, since the interviewer may follow up to make sure your relationship is real. Even better, get your contact to drop the interviewer an email or call praising your qualifications.
If you don't have a contact within the company, you'll need to create your own introduction by touting your achievements, qualifications and successes. Don't oversell yourself here. Just briefly let the interviewer know why it's worth his time to read your resume thoroughly and call you in for an interview.
A Good Story
People respond better to stories than they do to lists and bullet points. Find a point of personal connection that lets you tell a brief story about why it would mean something to you to work for this particular company. Take a few sentences to tell a narrative about your accomplishments elsewhere in an intriguing and fresh way. A cover letter that includes a story, keeping it to the point, is likely to interest an interviewer enough that he will want to hear more.
A Follow-Up Plan
Don't end your cover letter without making sure your potential interviewer knows how to find you. Every cover letter should include all your key contact information, especially your mobile phone and email. If your current employer doesn't know you are looking for a new job, make sure you don't use your work phone number in the cover letter. Even better than just listing your contact information, propose a follow-up plan in which you contact the interviewer to see if you can provide more information or set an interview date.
Every cover letter is the beginning of a path that can lead to a new job. Don't slap out a formulaic cover letter, but take the time to make yours personal and specific, telling a compelling story and working hard to make a connection between yourself and the person reading the letter. With just a little extra effort and creativity, your cover letter can open exciting doors for you.
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