In Thursday's blog, I covered the basic formatting of cover letters. After I outlined a format and discussed what content each paragraph should include, I realized that there was still so much more for me to tell you about cover letters! Aside from selling yourself and proving you are the perfect match for the job, here are some more basic cover letter thoughts that jump to mind:
1. Write a custom cover letter for each position you are applying for
2. Grab the reader's attention. Do not be afraid to add some of your personality into the cover letter. You want to sound interesting!
3. Avoid templates and canned verbiage
4. Keep it approximately four to five paragraphs and definitely no longer than one page
5. Address the letter to the individual who will be reading the letter (if possible). Avoid "To whom it may concern" and "dear Sir or Madam" at all costs
6. E-mailing cover letters: Copy and paste your cover letter into the body of the e-mail
7. Proofread your letter for spelling and grammatical errors
8. Make sure you include your current phone number and email address
9. Do not take a passive approach. Your final paragraph should state that you will contact the employer within one or two weeks to follow up on your resume
10. Did I mention proofread?
11. Drop in a stellar recommendation you may have on file from a previous manager or co-worker
12. Explain (briefly) anything in your resume that may raise a red flag (ie: large gaps in employment history)
13. Call attention to your qualifications by underlining them, boldfacing them, or indenting them in a list with bullets
14. Put your cover letter down, and then pick it up a day or two later as though you were the prospective employer. Does it grab and hold your attention? Is it concise? Is it free of typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors? Is it interesting? If you were the employer, would you know what this job-seeker wants to do and why he or she is the best person to do it? Would you invite this job seeker for an interview?
There is literally endless amounts of information on cover letters on the Internet. Take some time and read some examples of good cover letters. I do caution you though, make sure that if you are researching resume or cover letter techniques, make sure that you are getting information and advice from recent articles. As you have probably noticed, this dog and pony show of how to get an employer's attention is evolving all the time!
Are you all to familiar with the "Resume Black Hole"? I'll discuss the dreaded Automated Applicant Tracking System next.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention proof reading your cover letter?
As usual, please forward specific questions that you may have!