With the odds long and getting longer, now more than ever; you must make every effort to stand out in a sea of job applicants.Â And a vital tool in doing just that is your cover letter.Â Your cover letter is not only your first contact with an employer, it is also your first shot at impressing an employer – pretty important, I should think.Â
Your objective is to engage the employer without boring her.Â To that end, make your letter concise and to the point, within one page, by following my 4 step format, from the reader’s perspective:
- Who is this person?
- Why is this person writing me?
- What can this person do for me?
- What does this person want from me?
Here are additional insider tips on how to write creative yet powerful cover letters:
1.Â Research – You must invest the time and effort to write an excellent letter.Â Doing your homework will resonate in your cover letter and will speak loudly to your abilities as a proactive, problem solver – all without you “bragging” about it.Â It can be a powerful differentiator.
2.Â One on One – A well written cover letter is a personal outreach from you to an employer.Â It cannot be a cookie cutter or form letter.Â Your comments, your skills, your experience must all be written in terms of what the employer needs.Â At best, the letter makes the employer think, “she’s solved similar problems in past – I wonder if she could do that here?”Â It is that kind of imagining that can make an employer call you for an interview.
3.Â Drop a name – But more important than dropping a name, you should include a pithy quote or endorsement from the name you drop.Â If Jack Lordoverall once stated that you were the best manager he ever had, then mention that in the letter.Â Just make sure that if your prospective employer contacts Jack, that Jack will confirm that.Â There’s nothing like third party praise to give you credibility.
4.Â Add a post script – Everybody, and I do mean everybody, reads the PS at the bottom.Â Use it, but use it wisely.Â
5.Â Never mention money – Even if they ask for salary requirements in an ad, do not cite numbers.Â You should acknowledge the request and simply state that you would be happy to discuss it during an interview.Â Frankly there is no upside to providing this information, as it is simply a means to filter people out.Â Â Â And you don’t want to be filtered out for an arbitrary number.
6.Â Lastly, if practice makes perfect, then make your cover letter perfect by bouncing it off friends and colleagues first.Â Ask for their feedback, and be open to honest criticism.Â A little bit of ego bruising is more than fair payment for having a cover letter that can get your a job.