Like your appearance at an interview, your Cover Letter should make a good first impression. It should include only that information which helps engage with the reader (hiring pro or decision maker for example). And makes a positive impression which encourages them to call or email you to set up an interview.
A Cover Letter, one written in an engaging way – which includes facts, a simple story of a work situation you handled and statements which confirm your expertise – can go a long way in introducing you to a hiring pro, company decision maker or potential client; helping you get the job you want.
In fact, HR pros, recruiters and decision-makers say a cover letter can work as the introduction a resume doesn’t provide. Although a resume is still necessary.
Because it takes such a short time for HR pros, recruiters and decision makers to view and dismiss your resume, a cover letter opens the door for a dialogue (a call or email) if the first sentence is compelling enough to connect with them fast. In short it must engage them from the first word. And compel them to read on to the very last word.
Your cover letter must show your desire for the job at hand; help you stand out from the crowd as the only individual this pro wants to hire.
Not only that, when you have a solid cover letter, which immediately engages the reader, another position may come to mind into which you fit. Or wheels in the reader’s mind may start turning and have them creating a specific job just for you. Hiring pros say this does happen.
Never underestimate the value of a Cover Letter and the hard work it can do in helping get you hired. Aside from presenting your skills and expertise, a good Cover Letter conveys how your motivations, interests, and other related skills qualify you for the job at hand.
And one of the best strategies you can use, say career experts, is to take time to match your skills to that of the job available.
HR Pros, recruiters and decision makers admit taking only seconds to review a resume before tossing it. Instead, they spend the majority of their time viewing resumes of those with the most qualifications fitting the job they’re hiring for – which appear close to the top of the resume.
However, with a Cover Letter – since, in effect it’s a letter addressed specifically to them, they are far more inclined to take their time reading it. Therefore it’s extremely important to provide your job-matching skills and expertise as soon after the Cover Letter salutation as possible.
Your Cover Letter should get to the point; and fast.
- Focus on what you can do for the hiring company.
- State the facts – let them speak for you.
- Let your skills and expertise show you are a perfect fit for the job.
- Be concise; don’t use unnecessary words to fill in the letter.
That said, steer clear of providing TMI (too much information). For instance – stating irrelevant personal or old business info can do more to harm your chances of being selected than being over-qualified. Unnecessary info can do nothing but muddy the waters and have the hiring pro or decision maker drifting from pertinent facts which help get you hired to tossing your Cover Letter.
Here’s 10 tips to help you develop a solid, professional Cover Letter:
- Never include personal information such as married, single, co-habbing, number of children, religion, etc. Nor include such things as distance from home to the job and how you will get there if hired. This all serves to distract the reader and may have them unknowingly discriminating against you.
- Do not include reason/s why you left or plan to leave your current job. This is best shared, if asked, during an interview. Use your Cover Letter only to spell out your skills and expertise which match the job.
- Never, ever include rude comments, or share privileged info, about your past or present boss. This is an absolute no-no. Even if true, it tends to show you as untrustworthy and unprofessional. And, hiring pros say, have them tossing your Cover Letter.
- It’s absolutely unnecessary to state why you want or need this job. Stick with the facts. Stay focused on the professional reasons you believe you’re qualified.
- Do not state salary info unless asked to do so in the job ad. This is one of those facts which can turn a hiring pro or decision maker away from you. The main job of your Cover Letter and/or resume is to ensure a company whom you’re connecting with you are interested in the job and – in fact – well qualified. In short, you are an individual possessing the skills, expertise and background to do the best job. Regarding salary – it’s wise to allow the interviewer or hiring pro to bring up the topic of salary first.
- Hiring pros suggest it’s unnecessary to go back more than 15 years when delineating your background. Provide only the most current job info and facts. Other info can be covered at an interview or in a follow up email if requested.
- Never suggest the job is merely temporary until you find something which better fits your needs. Never make other statements which suggest this is merely a temporary situation for you.
- Never include jobs you never were hired for. Though a no-brainer, it must be mentioned. Dreaming up jobs you’ve never had will quickly be discovered by the hiring company. Likewise never over-state current or past job requirements to sound as if your job was more important or complex than it was. This is an absolute no-no. These are the fastest ways of losing out on any opportunity to get hired for any job within any company.
- Don’t mention what you expect or don’t expect from the company who hires you in the Cover Letter. Your resume and/or Cover Letter should concentrate only on what you bring to the table.
- Never embellish your experience; overstate your skills or enhance your experience so it does not reflect your actual experience and background.
A Cover Letter is your introduction to a potential client or employer. Generally it is the first connection you have with a company and/or hiring pro or decision maker. It provides the first critical impression. It should not duplicate your Resume but instead be used to delineate your skills and expertise in an informal yet professional and more descriptive way.
A good Cover Letter should clearly, yet briefly, explain the reason for your letter (your interest in the position); how your experience and skills match the position available. Don’t be coy. Provide specific skills which match the job posted. Don’t forget to provide stats which clearly show your skills and expertise.
Submitted by: Jean L. Serio CEIC, CDI, CPC, CeMA
Free Resource: Cover Letter Cheat Sheet