Cover letters. You know you need one but after all the thought and effort put into creating your resume you have no energy left to put together a cover letter. This is why so many cover letters appear almost as an afterthought. They are lackluster, unoriginal, and just plain boring. I mean, how much can you really do with a cover letter. Dear so-and-so, a few paragraphs about why they should hire you, sincerely and you’re done.
As a resume writer I am always seeing new trends in resume formats but not so much for a cover letter. That is why when I came across the two-column cover letter I just knew I had to share. Maybe some of you have already heard of this, or maybe you’ve even done it, but it is new to me and anything that can spice up a cover letter is worth passing along. The idea of the two-column cover letter is not new but it is not a format that is commonly used. A traditional cover letter seems to be the format of choice for job seekers. The reason I like the two-column cover letter is simple – it’s different.
Imagine you are a hiring manager with a pile of resumes six inches thick on your desk. You can only read so many cover letters before you start skipping them all together. Once a hiring manager starts skipping the cover letter you are in trouble, especially if you’ve included key information that would put you at the top of the hire list. If they don’t read it they will never know that you were the candidate they should have hired.
Now imagine that somewhere within this stack of cover letters and resume is your two-column cover letter. It’s almost certain to grab their attention with its clearly different approach and chances are they will read through your letter to see what it’s all about.
So, what exactly is a two-column cover letter? Well, it’s purpose it the same as the traditional cover letter format which is to market how your strengths meet the needs of the organization, it’s just presented a little different. Your two column cover letter can start out the same – an introductory paragraph that starts out with a hook to grab their attention and additional details such as the position title, where you found it, if someone referred you etc. The next section is where it’s different.
Rather than a few paragraphs detailing your qualifications and accomplishments, the two-column resume lays it out there in an easy to read format with the information the hiring manager needs to know front and center. They no longer have to trudge through a text dense cover letter searching for the information they are looking for. You’ve just made their job infinitely easier and they will appreciate your for it.
In the left side column you will list the particular needs of the company while In the right side column you would identify the strength you have that meets that need.
|ABC Company requires||I can deliver|
|An experienced sales manager||15+ years of award winning sales expertise|
|Exceptional customer relations||Secured and retained an average of 40 new customers per quarter|
|Motivational sales leader||Increased employee satisfaction rates 48% by introducing a sales incentive program|
After addressing how you would meet the needs of the company you can close out your cover letter in the typical way. Thank them for their time, let them know a specific action you will take (calling next week to follow up), and end assertively – I know you will find my ability to be aligned with ABC Company’s vision.
I think you will find that this atypical approach will be a welcomed change for hiring managers and may be just what you need to get noticed in this competitive job market.
by Megan Koehler