When going for a specific job opportunity, most employers expect to receive a cover letter along with a resume. It is another important job search tool and should be written to substantiate and highlight the information your resume contains.
Unfortunately lots of people get passed over for job candidates who are no more qualified just because they knew how to present themselves as winners in both the cover letter and resume. If you want to get noticed in an employer-centric job market, you have to take a strategic approach with your job search – that includes how you write your cover letter.
Avoid the General Approach
Lots of job seekers make the mistake of creating a “master cover letter” to make it easier when responding to mass job listings. This is a big mistake if you’re hoping to position yourself as the best candidate for the jobs that truly interest you. A “master cover letter” is a generic document that could be addressed to anyone, meaning no one in particular. For maximum impact, each cover letter needs to be written specifically for the job for which you are applying. You need to find out exactly who to address your cover letter to and make sure that your qualifications line up with the requirements of the job description.
Name Dropping Is Okay
Name dropping is usually frowned upon, but when you’re looking for a job it can actually work in your favor. If someone at the company you hope to join offers you a lead on a position, make sure to mention your contact’s name in your cover letter. The fact that you both know the same person can give you instant credibility in the eyes of the person who’s hiring – especially if they have a positive relationship and think highly of one another. In a struggling job market you have to use every tactic to your advantage.
Include Career Highlights
Your resume shows what you’re capable of, but it’s the cover letter that helps tip the scales to sell you as the right person for the job. Be sure to include the most impressive achievements of your career. They should be completely relevant to the job you’re seeking. This information illustrates to a prospective employer the value you would bring to their organization.
Ask for the Interview
There’s common a saying in sales and marketing: ask for the sale. It’s what’s known as a call to action, encouraging the recipient of the letter to take a desired action. This is exactly what you want to do before ending your cover letter – ask for the interview. It doesn’t have to sound pushy, let the contact know that you’d like to meet with her to discuss your qualifications. You can even provide a date for when she can expect to hear from you.
You need to have a strategy to write a winning cover letter that will complement your resume and and show why you are the best candidate for the job. Make sure to proofread your cover letter carefully, and then proof read it again. You can never be too careful and you don’t want an error to detract from the highly professional impression you’re trying to convey.