“A Good Resume Is Not Enough,”says guest blogger Kellie Stone in this special post about writing a general cover letter that will grab a recruiter’s attention.
Your resume may show your basic talents and experience, but it really isn’t designed to sell the most important thing: You.
Your qualifications show your knowledge of the field in which you want to work.
But it is your cover letter that is the deal maker … or breaker.
Let me give it to you straight; your cover letter is an arrow that needs to hit the bulls-eye. By that, I mean, it has to impress that HR person who’s brain dead from reading all the boring cover letters and who’d give anything for something exciting and different to cross his/her desk.
Trust me; this scene is happening all over the world at this very minute. I’ve seen enough dull cover letter samples to put the worst insomniacs into a coma.
Here are my four top tips for creating a resume cover letter than recruiters want to read:
1. The Break Out Letter
The first thing you have to do is your homework. Don’t ever address the letter to “Whom it may concern” or “Dear Sirs”. If you absolutely cannot find an address for someone in the company (like Dear Mr. Rogers), use greetings like Attn: Human Resources (make sure to reference the position for which you are applying). Many companies don’t disclose their company name in ads because they don’t want to alarm their current employees or receive a landslide of phone calls.
2. Ask and You Shall Receive
Don’t wait to ask for an interview in the end of the letter. You could be too late. How about being bold and asking for one right up front?
Yes, try inserting a request before the Dear Mr. So and So to make a statement of true assertiveness.
Here’s an example:
“I couldn’t help but notice the uncanny resemblance between my qualifications and your list of requirements for the General Manager position. If I may be so bold, I’d like to request a meeting where we could discuss why I believe that I’m the right person for the job.”
If you notice, the statement is in bold and centered; this is not a mistake. Remember, you want Mr. Bored-to-Death to see your stand out message.
3. Lost in Translation
Don’t use an overabundance of useless jargon and big words that require dictionary.com to understand. You have to find a way to sound intelligent without being stuffy and pretentious. How do you do this? Easy. Be yourself (hopefully, you aren’t really stuffy and pretentious). Talk like you do to anyone you would meet for the first time – as if you want to make a good impression but without the fakery. Got that? Good. Let’s move on.
4. It’s a Letter … Not a Book
Keep it simple sweetie is the key. Paragraphs should be long enough to say what you need to say; if not, you are trying to say too much. A letter that doesn’t have much white on the page will scare them away.
Here’s a sample cover letter structure: The best resume templates include an opening statement that clearly asks for the interview; the next paragraph should state (simply) why you chose their company (this is a good place to insert something that you learned about them during your research) and it should include one main reason why you might fit in there.
If you include a third paragraph, make it a short. Use it to include something unique about yourself that they are not going to read on anyone else’s cover letter. Be professional here; this isn’t the place to brag about how you can drink the men in your family under the table. For an accountant, it might be the opportunity to talk about how you volunteer to help seniors with their tax every year.
Your closing remark should be a reiteration of wanting that interview. You could say something like, “You may reach me via email at your convenience to schedule an interview. I’m looking forward to meeting you.” Your salutation should be warm and professional. I like to use Warm Regards, Regards and Sincerely when writing business correspondence.
Keep it positive and precise; and you will likely be among the first to be called in for a meeting. Good luck with your job search!
Kellie is a blogger, writer, and mom of six who spends her days plunking away at the keyboard while trying to keep her toddler girl out of the “bad” things… cat food, litter, toilet, etc. With a passion for helping others, she administrates her life-changing blog, Women’s Life Link and regularly contributes to several other online blogs/magazines.
Follow her on Twitter at WomensLifeLink
Photo by Barbara Bessa via Flickr.com creative commons license http://www.flickr.com/photos/barbarabessa/2949778055/
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