May 4, 2012

5 Tips For Creating An Impressive Cover Letter

impressedYou can have the most innovative resume, complete with professional looking font and fabulous stationary, but believe it or not, it might not be what gets you in the door.  Many people overlook the value of a good cover letter and what it can do to increase your chances for landing yourself an interview.

Cover letters gives applicants the opportunity to strut their stuff in half a page or less and provides recruiters with a quick and easy way to determine if they want to further pursue the applicant and conduct a more fulsome review of their credentials and work experience.  The cover letter is like your first impression in an interview.  You only have about the first 30 seconds into it that the person reviewing it makes a determination as to whether or not you’ll be a good fit for the position.

How do you accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of setting yourself apart from the pack?  Well, here are a few guidelines to follow to help your cover letter get your foot in the door.

A Generic Cover Letter Will Be Eaten By The Recycle Bin

Let’s clarify this one a little bit.  If you are applying for a job that requires a very conservative approach, then follow the direction given by the job posting.  However, if you are applying for a job that you really want and actually hope to get, then you had better leave the traditional generic cover letter in the rear-view mirror.

A hiring manager with a keen eye will immediately screen through and figure you’ve sent the same boring intro letter to 20 other companies and throw it in the recycle bin.  It might sound harsh, but what makes a recruiter think that you actually want to work there when you weren’t willing to customize the cover letter for them?  There is a difference between wanting a job and wanting that job.  You need to infuse your personality into your career statement.  Tell them why you are applying and what makes you amazing and how this would benefit them.

Always Address A Person

Do not use the humdrum “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir” when you’re writing a cover letter.  Figure out who the head of the department is by doing a little research.  It makes your cover letter that much more personable and more likely to be read.

Keep It Simple

Don’t use cover letters to condense your entire life history, that’s what your resume is for.  Keep your cover letter simple and to the point.  Bang out the benefits to the company if they hire you, and sell yourself in five lines or less.  That’s it.  Be witty and let your personality shine through.

Don’t forget, your cover letter needs to have a way to contact you on it!  Once you make an outstanding impression, a recruiter does not want to have to dig through your resume to find your phone number.  List it on the top or bottom of your cover letter and just sit back and wait for the phone to ring.

Read more in Cover Letter

Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.