En Route: A Career Blog

Make a Good First Impression with Your Cover Letter

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: , ,
POSTED: May 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

If you decide to include a cover letter when submitting your resume, it’s important to read these tips:

A Cover Letter is Not a ‘Here’s my Resume’ Note

1. Don’t simply send a cover letter that states – “my resume is enclosed”. That’s a given. You’re wasting the hiring manager’s time and you’re missing out on a great opportunity to sell yourself by being so cryptic.

The Salutation is Critical

2. Never address the cover letter to Dear Sir or Madam – or worse – To Whom It May Concern. That’s equivalent to Dear Occupant. Go online and find the name of the hiring manager at the company. Call the company and ask the receptionist to whom a letter should be addressed. If you’re answering a blind ad (the company’s name isn’t given), then don’t use a salutation. Instead, write:

Re: Job #876ABC

or

Re: Junior Accountant Position

Then get right into the body of your letter.

The Hiring Manager Want to Learn About You

3. Use the letter to tell the hiring manager about you – not the company. You’re wasting the HR person’s time when you state something like – “I’m excited about applying to your company because you make the best widgets in the business. USA Today stated that you were…”  Guess what – the hiring manager already knows all this. What s/he doesn’t know is who you are and what you can bring to the company in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities.

Don’t Make the Hiring Manager Guess the Position You Want

4. Use the opening paragraph to state the job you’re applying for and why you’re the perfect candidate for the position. Don’t make the hiring manager guess as to the purpose of your letter. Most won’t. They’ll simply move on to the next candidate.

Formatting is Critical

5. Bullet the middle of the letter and state your most stellar achievements – as they pertain to the qualifications needed for the job. In other words, sell yourself here.

Close Your Letter on a Proactive Note

6. End the letter by stating that you’ll be contacting the hiring manager to follow up on your interest in the position. If you don’t take that first step, you might be waiting a long time for an interview.

A cover letter isn’t just another document giving you a chance to say you want a job. Again, that’s a given. It’s a marketing piece, like the resume, to sell the hiring manager on your unique talents and abilities.