by Lisa Rangel
Writing a great cover letter that is specific to each job search application is a must in today’s career marketplace. Using a one-size-fits-all, general cover letter for all your applications and communications is not an effective means to uniquely presenting yourself in a job search. The following six cover letter tips will help you write a concise, impactful cover letter that will improve your chances of getting noticed and receiving that call for the coveted interview:
- Ensure your cover letter is short—no more than a computer screen shot or a couple of scrolls on a smart phone. That’s it! Hiring managers and associates do not read much more than that length. If it is longer, you run the risk of your letter getting skipped over.
- Address your cover letter to a person—an actual person! Do not send it “To Whom It May Concern” or “Hiring Manager.” Do the homework and research who you should be addressing your cover letter to for your submission.
- Specify how you found the person to email them. Most people have an instinctive response like, “How did they get my name?” when receiving an unsolicited, yet personalized inquiry. Indicate early on in the cover letter email how came to discover them to put the receiving party at immediate ease to continue reading. Whether it was research on LinkedIn or your former co-worker that led you to reach out to this person, informing the recipient of how your email landed in their inbox makes the person feel better.
- Be explicit as to what job you are looking for, if it is an exploratory request, or submitting to, if there is a job posting. Do not leave it up to the hiring manager to decide which job you are applying to or where you may fit within their organization. If you do, your cover letter may get filed under the “T” file (Trash).
- Tips 4,5 and complete article
At best, a cover letter can help A job-seeker stand out from the pack. At worst, it can make a promising candidate seem like in uncreative cut-and-paster. Sadly, the vast majority of cover letters read essentially the same: Retreads of resumes that ramble on while repeating the obvious. Would you read one of these to the end if it were put in front of you? Probably not, and nor would most hiring managers.
Of course, the Internet is full of tips and tutorials on writing a cover letter, but few of them give much useful information other than the obvious (“Use good grammar!”). So I got to thinking about what cover letter tips and techniques have served me over the years. I came up with these six golden rules for writing a cover letter somebody will actually want to read.
1) Don’t repeat your resume
A lot of people write cover letters as if they were paragraph-form resumes. Fact is, your letter will be stapled (or attached to the same email) as your actual resume, so you can assume that they’ll at least glance at it (and probably with a keener eye than your cover letter). Instead, use your cover letter to show personality, curiosity, and an interest in the field you are applying to work in. My favorite pro tip: Google around for the history of your field or company, and sprinkle some cool historical facts into your cover letter (or even use one as a lead). If I was applying for a job in tech, I might talk about how thrilling it was to see Moore’s law transform technology before my eyes, and how thrilled I am to be a part of this transformation. If I were applying for a job in fashion, I might talk about how much fashion has changed since the 80s (a lot!). Everything has a hidden history. Use it to show expertise and interest.
2) Keep it short
Less. Is. More. Three paragraphs, tops. Half a page, tops. Skip lengthy exposition and jump right into something juicy.
3) Address Nobody
Sometimes, you don’t know exactly who you should be addressing your letter to. Nix the generic and bland “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom It May Concern”. If you absolutely don’t know who you should be addressing, then don’t address anybody. Instead, just jump right into the body of the letter.
Tips 4 – 6 and complete Forbes article