An effective cover letter can prove you write well, think clearly and possess the qualities you need to succeed in the job. Your job search can stall if your cover letter fails to show your value, or makes it obvious that you're not taking the time to learn about the employer's business. Unfortunately, the job market still abounds with cover letters that look like templates or that only rehash the resume.
So what SHOULD you do when putting together a cover letter? Kristin Macy, Career Development Expert, joined us to share a few simple tips:
- Show your interest, find a name! Be creative, find the name of the Human Resources Director of the company you are applying for. It will capture their attention--just stating "To Whom It May Concern", or "Dear Hiring Manager," is a dime a dozen.
- Keep it short, but informative, nobody wants to read a book. Make it a start fresh each time you write a cover letter. If you're worn out from writing your resume, and can barely muster the energy to craft a reason why employers should hire you, I have news for you: they won't hire you if you can't write a cover letter that will capture their attention in three paragraphs or less.
- Let your reputation take center stage, or you will get overlooked. Let's say that you have been consistently promoted in your career or you're always the person that key accounts request when they call, there's a reason and you need to let it show. Stop to think about why your past 2 or 3 employers hired you. There's a message behind it, and it's one you'll want to get out of your head and onto the page. Emphasize your accomplishments, not your duties, as they specifically answer the job description. Highlight first and foremost your skills and experiences that match those the employer is seeking!
- Assume you have something unique to offer, there is nothing wrong with bragging! Yes, you do, and you can dig hard to get at it before writing your cover letter. What projects do you frequently volunteer for - and then drive to success? How has your work made things faster, cheaper, or just plain easier for past employers? Why do others enjoy working with you? These are strengths that any employer needs to know before they're hire you. Make sure to incorporate key industry words in your letter, without just repeating your resume.
90% of the resumes sent to companies end up in the trash and that the average time a recruiter will look at a resume is approximately 20 seconds? If something doesn't pique the recruiter's interest, the resume will be tossed. The competition for any given position is intense because so many people are vying for the same job. That's why the cover letter is so important.
In fact, 70% of all employees are looking for other jobs while they are employed, and there are over 11.5 million unemployed people in the United States making their search even more difficult.