By Lisa Rangel
Crafting a great cover letter that is customized to each job search application and networking opportunity 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 the 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 recruiting associates do not read much more than that length. If it is longer, you run the risk of your letter getting skipped.
- 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 to learn to whom you should be addressing your cover letter and addressing the appropriately.
- 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, whether it is an exploratory request or if you are submitting your credentials to 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).
- Do not write the cover letter as a prose version of your resume. It is not meant to be a regurgitation of your resume in paragraph form. A cover letter is supposed to summarize to the reader the value you will bring to the prospective organization and how your background fills a need they have. Nothing will put your credentials in the ‘no’ pile faster than a lengthy, synopsis of your career history with no ties as to how your credentials benefits the hiring organization.
- Help the reader connect the dots as to why they should take action and call you for an interview or forward you to the right person to bring you in for a discussion. Use bullets, and no more then 3-5 bullets, to outline how you are a fit for the prospective position.
Lastly, of course, end your letter with the professional niceties of thanking the person for their time and assertively offering to follow up to set up an interview time. Polite enthusiasm and humble persistence are never out of style and always stand out in a positive light in today’s marketplace.