By Megan Koehler, Expert Resume Writer and Personal Branding Strategist
You finally finished writing your resume and, what?! Now you have to write a cover letter too? To make that job a little easier here is a list of ten tips for writing your cover letter.
1) Cover Letters Are a Must
You must send a cover letter. It is not optional. Sending a resume without a cover letter lacks professionalism and will not project a very good image.
2) Format Matters
The format of your cover letter should match that of your resume. Why? Because it looks good. Same font, same size, same margins, and same contact heading.
3) Using the Same Cover Letter Won’t Cut It
Customize your cover letter for every position. Generic cover letters are boring and ineffective and will not get you anywhere. It might take you a little bit longer to write a cover letter for each position but it will be worth it. Mention the company by name, the hiring manager, and specifics of why you would be ideal for the position. Define your value by offering a solution for a need of that particular company.
4) To Whom It May Concern = WRONG!
Address your cover letter to someone specific. To whom it may concern or Dear Hiring Manager should be avoided if at all possible. Not sure who to send it to? Call the company, check out their website, or ask someone you know who works there. Your resume stands a better chance of getting to the person who needs to see it if it has someone’s name on it.
5) Don’t Strike the Wrong Tone
Pay attention to the tone of your cover letter. You want the tone to come across as confident and self-assured (not arrogant). Believe in yourself and your expertise and that will carry through to your reader. Don’t say, I think my skills would be a good match, or I hope to hear from you. Instead, say, My skills are directly in line with your needs, or I will be in touch.
6) Don’t Just Tell, Sell Yourself
Be specific in promoting your value. Don’t just tell them you are a good match show them exactly why you are. Give examples that highlight your value: In my past position I was able to reduce costs 43% by identifying ordering redundancies. As your inventory manager I would implement the same processes to eliminate repeat spending.
7) Let Me Explain…
Your cover letter is where you should address your plans to relocate (especially if your are applying for a job in a different area), any reasons for a career transition, and explain gaps in your career history.
8) Don’t Repeat Yourself
Try and offer some new information that can’t be found on your resume. Perhaps you had some great achievements earlier in your career that you didn’t include on your resume, work them into your cover letter.
9) Grab Their Attention
Hook your reader in with an opening statement that is original and uncommon. This will grab your reader’s attention and persuade them to keep reading. So many people use, Please consider me for, or I am submitting my resume in response. Both are boring and overused! Try something different to stand out from everyone else.
10) Close Your Letter with a Plan
End your cover letter with a plan. Be assertive and close with the action you will take such as, I will call your office next week to inquire about a time to meet and further discuss my qualifications. Don’t waste weeks waiting for them to call you.
by Megan Koehler