The Art of the Cover Letter
often receive hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for a given job. To
avoid having your resume sink in a sea of paper or electronic files, it’s
essential to write a cover letter that stands out and makes a great first
Rule #1: Keep Up
Your resume and
cover letter must be aesthetically pleasing and consistent in appearance. This
includes formatting with the same heading and fonts in each and using a
high-quality printer and paper, if documents are being "snail
Also, keep it tasteful and
save the designer stationery and stylish fonts for writing letters to friends.
A professional employment package never sets a casual tone.
Rule #2: Target
Always use the hiring manager’s name in the salutation. If the contact’s name
isn’t provided in the job posting, a bit of Internet research or a well-structured
phone call can produce results. In using the contact’s name, the cover letter
is personalized, while also showing your interest in the company. Remember, a
letter addressed "Dear Sir or Madam" or worse, "To Whom It May
Concern," has the same impact as one addressed "Dear Occupant."
Rule #3: Craft a
Strong Opening Statement
A dynamic opening paragraph is essential to capture and retain a hiring
manager’s interest. For a quick and effective read, it should include a
reference to the position sought and a brief statement as to why you are
qualified to fill the job. Emphasis should be placed on what you can do for the
company, while also providing quantifiable proof.
Rule #4: Showcase
Include a bulleted area to emphasize accomplishments pertinent to your targeted
job. Not only does this break up large blocks of text that can be daunting to
read, but it also draws the eye toward the most important part of the cover
letter — what you have to offer.
Rule #5: Create a
Always initiate further action at the end of a cover letter. A proactive
closing indicates that you will call within a few days to see if a time might
be scheduled to meet. To wait for a hiring manager to take that first step is
to risk losing the opportunity to another candidate. If a job description asks
that you not call, however, it’s in your best interest to respect their wishes.
The goal of your cover
letter is simple: to convince a hiring manager to read your resume. Follow
these simple rules and you’ll be sure to create a compelling letter that will
leave a hiring manager wanting more.