It’s the job of the cover letter to make the person want to read the resume. That’s it. The letter doesn’t get you the interview — that’s the resume’s job. But if your cover letter isn’t persuasive in a different way, your brilliantly crafted resume will never make it to the first pass. So, what makes a great cover letter?
Here are five easy tips to make your cover letter stand out:
1. Keep It Short
Having too much detail in your cover letter will take some of the glory from your resume. In the days of paper resumes, it was called a cover letter because its purpose was to “cover” the other item in the envelope: in this case, the resume. It’s similar to what you might say when you hand someone an information piece of some kind: “Here’s the sales report for this month. The results are excellent, mainly because we introduced the new product line.”
Similarly, tell the person what you are sending and why, with one point that ties in with what they will read in the resume. It’s what the advertising industry calls “teaser copy.”
A cover letter should never be more than one page.
2. Be Clear About What Job You’re Applying For
Some companies have many jobs available and advertised at the same time, and all the resumes probably land in HR to be sorted. So, if you don’t clearly spell out which job you want, why should they take time to guess? They won’t — your letter and resume will be thrown out without being read.
If you are responding to a want ad in the newspaper or online, it may have a file number or job number associated with it. Make sure you quote that number so that your letter will end up in the right pile. You don’t want to send your carefully written accounting resume to be chasing a job as a copywriter!