So, what goes into a good looking cover letter. I think cover letters tend to be more important than a resume, if – if – if, you are sending a cover letter in response to your networking efforts. How much more enticing would it be to start a letter with, “John suggested I call…” versus “I am responding to your ad in the sunday blank…”
But let us say that you need to send a resume and cover letter. Well, here is some what I think you should consider before writing anything. First, the guidelines:
- We read letters with our senses first; the touch, the feel of the paper – followed by the visual, the look of the letter.
- We look to our name; is it spelled correctly, is it address to me.”
- We skim the letter; look for highlights, what draws the eyes – is it a long letter?
- Finally, we read the letter.
This is how I believe most people read a letter. So, what does that tell you? It tells me that I need to first, and foremost, address the style issue. The approach is all visual and touches.
- Use the best paper you can get your hands on. Hold it, feel it, move your fingers around it. The paper quality is very important.
- Research and find out everything about your interviewer. Simple as it is, a misspelled name means game over.
- Use bullet points. Bullet points draw the eyes.
- A strong, closing paragraph asking for action.
The substance of the cover letter should be straightforward. Remember, the purpose of the cover letter is twofold. First, it is to create a compelling need for her to move on to the resume. Second, it is to put her in a receptive mood for whatever is in your resume.
You essentially want to answer the following questions in his mind, as he opens the envelope to pull out the cover letter and resume.
- Who is this person?
- Why is this person writing me?
- What can this person do for me?
- What does this person want from me?
If you effectively address those four concerns, then you are on the right track. Does, this look familar? The Need, the benefit, the features, the close.
Yes, you got it. It is a sales letter. First, there is the introduction and statement of the buyer’s need. Second, you state the benefit of the product – what you can do for her. Third, you briefly state the features of getting you – the bells and whistles. Finally, the close – asking for the order. A cover letter is a brief, succinct sales letter. If done right, the resume becomes an afterthought.
Again, for the closing, ask for action. Ask her to call you. Or state that you will contact her within the next few days to set up an appointment. Be firm in asking for action. Otherwise, what would be the point of sending the cover letter?
A side note: some suggest using keyword or buzz phrases to catch the reader’s eye. I do not think that is necessary. Just speak to his needs and how you can solve those needs, and the rest will follow. Write naturally and with sincerity.
Lastly, proofread, proofread, and then proofread some more. At least one other person should also proofread before you send the letter.