Always send a cover letter with a resume when applying for a job. The cover letter and resume have the same goal—to get the interview; however, they should contain different information. The purpose of the cover letter is to develop a rapport with the hiring manager and give him or her an idea of your personality type.
8 Keys to a Killer Cover Letter:
1. Keep your cover letter short. Do not restate your entire resume in your cover letter.
2. Keep it clear, concise, and simple. Tell them:
A. Where you learned about the job
B. Why you’re the right candidate for the job
C. How they can contact you
3. Experts say that your cover letter should be no more than four paragraphs on one page.
4. Use critical keywords that focus on your industry knowledge and skill set. In today’s competitive job market, larger companies often pre-screen the applicant pool by running all applications through a computer program designed to eliminate unqualified applicants.
5. Format in business-letter style using a font size of 10 or 12. Choose an easy-to-read font style, such as Arial or Times New Roman.
6. Start with your name, your address, and the date. Include an e-mail address if you have one.
7. Include a reference line indicating the position for which you’re applying, as well as the job reference number, if it’s listed.
8. Include a salutation. The letter has greater impact if addressed to the actual person that will be responsible for hiring
Opening—Get Their Attention:
The best approach in the leading sentence is to stick with the facts and simply state why you’re writing the letter. The second sentence should act as your attention-getter.
Body—Gain Their Interest:
Here’s where you spell out why they should hire you. If you have particular education or experience point it out. You need to relate your skills to their job requirements.
State why they should hire you, ask for the interview and indicate any follow-up. Finally, add a complimentary closing such as, “Sincerely yours,” your name, contact information, and a list of any enclosures. Do not forget to sign the letter before mailing.
Make sure you include your full contact information including mobile number, email, twitter and linkedin links.
Why Some Cover Letters Fail
Job applicants often make the mistake of assuming that employers never really read the cover letter, so they don’t spend much time putting one together. These are generally the same applicants questioning why they were not called in for an interview. Let’s put an end to the myth right now—hiring managers do indeed read cover letters. Your cover letter is the first impression an employer has about you, so make sure it stands out.
Cover Letter Red Flags
- Overall appearance is sloppy or not formatted properly
- Contact information is not provided and the candidate appears unavailable
- Spelling and/or grammatical errors
- Letter is not addressed to the name that appears in the ad
- Letter does not include an opening, body and closing paragraph
- No interesting, attention-grabbing opening statement
- No reference to the specific position sought
- Applicants use weak language and do not try to sell themselves
- Job seeker tries to use big words to impress the reader rather than keeping language simple and concise
- Letter reads generically—it’s obvious that no time was taken to customize to a particular job title, industry, & etc
- It is obvious to the reader that the applicant is bragging or exaggerating about his/her past experiences and accomplishments
- Salary history not included when requested
- There is no indication of follow-up action by candidate