With many of today’s job seekers applying for new positions online, one important document doesn’t garner as much attention as it should: the cover letter. Most applicants just type out a few quick sentences in an e-mail message, attach a resume and hit Send, assuming that’s sufficient. If you want to stand apart from other candidates, sufficient isn’t enough. Here are some tips to help you develop a strong cover letter:
- Name names. Address your letter to the specific hiring manager rather than including a generalized introduction. If you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, call the company and ask.
- Do your homework. Research the company online and, using the information you discover, demonstrate how your skills fit the job and could benefit the organization.
- Solve any mysteries. If you have any long employment gaps, explain how you filled the time. Mention professional development courses or volunteer activities that show your efforts to keep your skills current.
- Leave something for the resume. Limit your cover letter to one page if printed, or a few paragraphs if submitted in the body of an e-mail.
- Make a plan. Demonstrate your excitement for the position and conclude by identifying next steps such as, “I’ll follow up with you next week to discuss meeting in person.”
- Read and reread. Just as you would scrutinize your resume, take time to review your cover letter for typos and grammatical errors. Have a friend or mentor read it as an added precaution.
- Be a savvy submitter. When applying through online job boards, always choose the option to add your cover letter to your resume. When e-mailing application materials to a hiring manager, paste your cover letter within the body of your message.
Source: Robert Half – workvine.com