Do you hate writing cover letters? Most people do.
However, employers expect to see a cover letter with your resume. They read your letter and form impressions of you as a candidate based on what they read. A bad cover letter (or a lack of one at all) can cause you to lose the chance to interview.
The good news is that it's easier than you think to write a cover letter that gives them a very positive first impression, makes you stand out from other candidates and gets you an interview.
Use Your Cover Letter To Begin Selling Yourself For The Job
The job search itself is psychologically a sales process, and this cover letter is the very first 'ad' that will grab attention and interest—even before they read your resume.
The employer is a customer in this process, and just like with any customer, you have to get their attention by talking about what THEY need and what THEY are interested in. "I am very excited to speak with you about this job" is not nearly as attractive as "I am excited to speak with you about how I helped my last company triple sales."
Target Your Cover Letter
This cover letter should apply only for this job. Don't try to use the same letter for each opportunity—it won't work.
That doesn't mean that you can't use elements of a good letter for multiple opportunities. It just means that you should have this particular job, at this particular company in mind when you put together your letter.
Remember That You Are Writing To A Person In Your Cover Letter
This is one of the reasons that generic, formal letters fall flat. If you would not be interested in reading an overly formal, stilted piece of prose, chances are that the hiring manager (your future boss) won't, either.
Be professional, but use your own voice and inject some personality in your letter.
Build Your Cover Letter With Three Paragraphs
- 1st paragraph: Introduction - Say what job you're interested in and why they should be interested in talking to you about it.
- 2nd paragraph: Evidence - This paragraph is where you highlight some of the most significant things you've done. Do yourself a favor and use bullet points here.
- 3rd paragraph: Close - Don't just say that you're looking forward to hearing from them. Tell them when you'll call to follow up. Usually, this would be in a day or two.
Quantify The Evidence Of Your Accomplishments In Your Cover Letter
To quantify means to describe in terms of numbers, dollars, or percentages. This is a powerful attention-grabber for employers. Numbers break up the expanse of text, and numbers don't lie.
So, instead of saying that you 'reduced operating costs,' say that you 'reduced operating costs by 30%' or whatever it was. That will grab their attention.
Use Spell-Check AND Proofread Your Cover Letter
Don't rely on spell-check. I've had it suggest some words that were absolutely wrong, and it doesn't catch everything. Use spell-check at a beginning. Then proofread it, and then have someone else proofread it, too.
This is your first impression. Don't let something as simple as a typo ruin their image of you as a competent professional.
Don't Email Your Cover Letter As An Attachment
If you are emailing your resume to an employer, the resume will be attached to the email.
The cover letter should never be attached. If you attach it, all your work will be wasted. Use your cover letter as the body of the email that you then attach your resume to.
Find out more about writing a job-winning cover letter (and see examples) in my Free Report – How to Write Attention-Getting Cover Letters.
There are even MORE ways you can write a cover letter recruiters and potential employers will love. Head over here to learn how.
If you need help with your cover letter, resume, or LinkedIn profile, we invite you to join Work It Daily today!
When you join, you get your materials reviewed by one of our trained career growth specialists, plus one-on-one support from those specialists. You also get the chance to join a community of like-minded professionals dedicated to growing their careers and creating a long-lasting, supportive network.
Want to learn more? Check out this video with our CEO and founder, J.T. O'Donnell.
We can't wait to have you join!
This post was originally published at an earlier date.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a Work It Daily-approved expert an opinions are his/her own. Not all advice reflects Work It Daily guidance.