A college student looking for an intern position shot her cover letter over to me.Â She wanted some constructive criticism.Â Â I wanted to deconstruct it, blow it up, drown it in red ink, and send it back to her.Â Instead, I was nice about it.
I am, at times, flabbergasted by the number of people who either do not know how to write a cover letter or do not understand its importance.Â So, I thought I would address a few points:
- A Cover letter is a personal correspondence between you and the addressee.Â Therefore, it must abide by a few â€œrules.â€
- It must be addressed to a live person, which would be the person you want to have read the letter.
- The letter must be warm in that the readerâ€™s reaction cannot be, â€œwow, another form letter.â€
- And, the reader should not have to have a dictionary to understand what you are reading.Â The cover letter is not to impress but to entice the reader to call you, or at the very least, read your resume.
- The substance must be real and relevant.Â Â The letter mustÂ convey a sense that you spent time researching and studying the company.Â Â The letter must be uniquely tailored to the job and company you are sending it to.Â
- Every investment opportunity comes with the warning that “past performance is no guarantee of future success.”Â
- Every hiring manager and employer wrestles with this quandary on every job applicant.
- A resume is the past performance.
- A cover letter is your attempt to, maybe not, guarantee; but at least, suggest future success
- So, a cover letter is absolute not a summary or rehash of your resume.
- A cover letter answers two questions.
- Why are you writing?
- Why should I (the reader) care?Â
- A cover letter covers three questions.
- What job you would like?
- Why you would be good at it?
- How the company (or the reader) benefits by having you do the job?
- In essence, a cover letter should consist of 4 very short, succinct paragraphs with three covered in the previous point, and one more to forward.
- You must, like a salesperson, close the sale.
- A cover letter must ask for a definite course of action.Â That is the fourth paragraph.
- A â€œhope to hear from youâ€ means that you must keep hoping.
- A call to action is â€œplease call me at (000) 123-4567â€ or â€œI will call you in 8 days to follow-up with any questions you might have.â€
- You must be forward and ask for the order.Â What is the worst that can happen; you get a â€œno.â€Â Â
By the way, if you send a resume by email, you need what is basically a cover letter to introduce your resume.Â Nothing changes here.Â Do not assume that because you are sending via email, a cover letter is not needed.Â It is always needed.
A hiring manager or HR manager is going to read a cover letter in about 30 seconds or less, and that should dictate how long the cover letter should be.Â Keep it short, succinct and on point.Â
Some have estimated that, in the United States, there are over 100 applicants for every job opening.Â Those are long odds, but it is doable.Â Good people get hired every day.Â Do not sabotage yourself by writing a poor cover letter.Â That one page, short letter can make the difference in whether your resume is read or not â€“ whether you get an interview or not.