Cover letter writing is an important, but all too often neglected part of the job search. For most people, updating a resume is a manageable task. However, writing a persuasive cover letter is dreaded and challenging. Be sure to devote efficient time to preparing your cover letter. After all, if your cover letter doesn’t cut the muster you may not even get the chance to show off your resume.
Each time you prepare a new cover letter, be sure to avoid common mishaps that can contribute to missed opportunities.
1. One Letter Doesn’t Fit All
It saves time to generate a standardized letter during your job hunt but be sure that it is not over generic. It is important to take the time to tweak your cover letter so it fits the position to which you are applying. Some specific changes you should make prior to submitting your cover letter to a new job are as follows – be sure to revise the job title, date, company name and source of job listing. You want to show your reader that you are willing to devote time into the work you do and are not looking for short cuts.
2. Grab your reader’s attention
Use your first paragraph to grab the attention of your reader. Your first paragraph is the most important and shouldn’t be wasted on drab information. Explain to the reader why you are writing to them, what position you want and how you heard about the job. Highlight the job description to target the key points; you can then match your qualifications to what they are seeking. You may also want to prove your knowledge of the employer and show why you specifically want to work for them; this shows you have a genuine interest in the company. Don’t forget, keep them reading!
4. Size Matters
A cover letter should be just that — a letter. Avoid dragging out your letter; this can cause your letter to be over looked. Be sure to point out core elements of your skills and qualifications while getting to the point. Your reader probably has a large amount of resumes to review and it is your job to highlight your accomplishments so they don’t have to dig for them. While you don’t want to submit a two-page report, you do want your cover letter to consist of more than a sentence or two. Three well-written paragraphs outlining your interest in the position and qualifications are ideal. Anything shorter could communicate a lack of effort while anything longer probably won’t be read at all.
5. Don’t depend on the employer to take action.
It is your responsibility to request action. Request an interview, and tell the employer when you will follow up to arrange it. Then, do so. You will greatly increase your chances of getting interviews if you call the employer after writing instead of sitting back and waiting for a call. Those who wait for the employer to call them will generally have a long wait or no call at all.
Remember cover letter writing does not have to be a painful and daunting task. The quality of your resume and cover letter are two parts of your job search that you actually have control over. With proper preparation your professional and polished cover letter can help secure multiple interviews.