Cover letters are an important part of your job search package. They give you a chance to introduce yourself as a candidate and to inform the reader of your qualifications. Whether your resume is read or not, may depend on your cover letter. Here’s how to make sure that yours opens the door to your next job:
1. Cover letters should include: how you heard about the opportunity, your strengths for this position and a close asking for an interview. Three paragraphs, short and sweet. No one has time to read a long, text-dense cover letter.
2. Your cover letter should let the reader know why you are right for this position, why you want to change careers, industries, etc. It should give the reader perspective and context for when they review your resume. Your cover letter MUST agree with your resume. If a particular skill is not in your resume, it should not be listed in the cover letter.
3. Customize your cover letter for each opportunity. Utilize the same skills/wording as in the ad. If you have the skills they’re looking for, let the reader know upfront in your cover letter.
4. Follow the ad carefully. Use the same job numbers, and the same names listed. If you can’t follow directions, why would this company want to hire you? As an aside, never use, “To Whom It May Concern” in salutations. Again, use the names provided.
5. Develop a template so that you can easily and quickly customize your letter. As communicators, we often have many different skills and highlighting the correct ones is crucial.
Use a cover letter when you can. You can help yourself and a hiring manager by letting them know why you are right for this opportunity.