by Jimmy Sweeney©
Just like the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, the humble cover letter gets no respect either.
Job-seekers spend so much time and energy on their resume they’ve got nothing left to offer their poor, neglected cover letter.
Big… big mistake!
It is the well-written cover letter — not the resume — that can single-handedly land you more job interviews. The cover letter is your one chance to really market yourself to an employer using proven marketing strategies rarely found in the typical cover letter.
Conversely, there is only so much you can do with the traditional CV or resume. I believe the carefully crafted cover letter is more important to your job search success than any other written document including the resume.
As a direct-marketing professional for almost 20 years, I bring to you my seven elements of a highly effective job search cover letter:
- ADDRESS your cover letter to a REAL PERSON! Do your best to find out TO WHOM you should address your cover letter. “Dear Manager” is lifeless.
- OPEN with an attention-grabbing first sentence to really grip the reader. This approach will almost guarantee your cover letter and resume get a much closer look.
- REMEMBER — Less is MORE! The best cover letters have plenty of white space. Clear, focused, short and sweet gets the interview every time.
- FOCUS on what you can do for the employer. How can you benefit the company specifically? Do a little research and relate this value-added simply and clearly in your letter.
- CHOOSE WORDS that show enthusiasm and passion for the position you seek … (big, big secret!) Then, carry this passion into the interview with you.
- REQUEST ONE ACTION you want the employer to take: “I would really like the opportunity for a personal interview this week.” (You never know until you ASK)!
- END your cover letter with enthusiastic and telling verbiage, such as, “I look forward to being interviewed at your earliest convenience. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Sincerely, Jane Jobseeker.” (Notice how Jane assumes she’ll land the interview? This approach is clever, smart, and it works like a charm).
Think of your cover letter as a sales letter. The only purpose of your job-search cover letter is to land you job interviews. That’s the bottom line. By using the proven marketing strategies I’ve outlined above, you will land a great number of quality job interviews than your competition.
You must get your foot in the company door first to have any chance at all. With the right cover letter, you can blow several doors wide open immediately. More job interviews translate to a wider range of opportunity and (drum roll, please) … more job offers.
Finally, the most important advice I can offer you is this: Follow up every job lead, contact, and communication. Following up is the “golden key” to getting hired for the job of your dreams. Use follow-up cover letters, thank-you letters, and follow-up phone calls. Following up actually doubles your chance for success. It is also the one missing ingredient in 99 percent of all job seekers recipe book. Good news for you.
Now go out there and make your own luck!
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Jimmy Sweeney is the president of CareerJimmy and author of the new, “Amazing Cover Letter Creator.” Jimmy is also the author of several career-related books and writes a monthly article titled, “Job Search Secrets.” You can visit Jimmy on the Web at Amazing-Cover-Letters.com for your “instant” cover letter today.
Go back to the Cover Letter Resources for Job-Seekers section of Quintessential Careers, where you will find a collection of the best cover letter tools and resources, including articles, tutorials, and more.
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While we all know that a resume is important to the jobsearch process, it is not necessarily the most important document you will need to secure an interview.
Many people believe that a strategically targeted cover letter is the most important weapon you need to fight this battle and to win it. There are two key reasons why.
- The cover letter allows you to target the job and the employer in a very specific way, leaving the resume to market your skills, qualities and experience as a part of the bigger picture. Your resume then needs less tweaking with each application because the letter, which must be different each time, does that for you.
- A great cover letter should not just repeat your resume in a shorter form, but should tell the employer what it is about the job that is attractive to you and why you want to work for that employer. You will also need to include the unique skills and the qualities you bring to that job and the company.
Writing a killer cover letter is not a simple task. It requires thought, knowledge and understanding
Many employers and recruiters read the letter first. Some will not even consider your resume until they are satisfied by the content of your letter. So it is a very important document.
- You will need to do research on the employer and the job before writing the letter
- It will need to be written in an engaging style using keywords applicable to the job
- In the letter you will need to show that you have made the effort to learn about their company by acquiring relevant knowledge before going to the interview, if you are chosen.
So what do you do if the employer is not disclosed in the job advert? Well the letter still has to be written specifically to the job addressing the key requirements stated and your enthusiasm needs to shine through. No letter can just say "here is my resume", not if you want an interview. You will need to convey:
- I have reviewed your website and understand your business
- You are my employer of choice
- I believe my personality fits with your organisational culture (providing it does)
- I really want to work for an organisation with your values
These all help to sell "your fit" with their organisation. At Successful Resumes we believe the cover letter needs as much attention and skill in the preparation as your resume.
If you need help with your cover letter please visit our website here likewise if you require a free assessment of your resume or advice on government selection criteria go to our website. One of our national team of highly qualified and experienced writers will be available to work with you to ensure you have the best chance of winning the interview to kick start or reignite your career.
By John Little Managing Director of Successful Resumes Australia - visit us at www.successfulresumes.com.au