by Eboni T, ResumeEdge Certified Writer -
With scanning software sifting through pools of job candidates, it seems that you need supernatural powers to break through the barriers and reach a human in human resources. A customized resume may only get you halfway there. You need to think of your cover letter as the other half of your Dynamic Duo, with a mission to complement, but not duplicate, your resume.
A well-written cover letter should make a positive, personal first impression and clearly summarize why you are an ideal match for a company and should be considered for an open position. The best ways to arm your cover letter for a victorious job search crusade is to CAPE it: Customize, Align, Personalize, and Edit.
Editors Note: Countless studies have shown that professionally-written cover letters and resumes get more interviews. Compare Resume Writing and Resume Editing to see which of our services is right for you.
No position has identical requirements to another position, so no cover letter can be one-size-fits-all for job openings. As tedious as it may appear, you should always target your cover letter for each employer, as JobSearch.About.com recommends. Taking the time to customize your letter can make the difference between being considered or overlooked, and you—or another candidate—getting the job.
Open your cover letter by stating why you are interested in working at the company and which position you are seeking to fill. This is not the place to be long-winded about your experience, hobbies, and interests, but rather concise and convincing about why you’re the perfect candidate for the position.
Read each job description thoroughly, and honestly assess whether you meet the qualifications. If so, highlight which responsibilities match your experience and create a bullet list to showcase where your expertise aligns. Emphasize your achievements by including quantifiable accomplishments relevant to the responsibilities outlined in the job posting.
To give yourself an edge, dig deeper in your research than other candidates might. For example, explore the company’s website to find out the latest news and/or social media sites, such as LinkedIn® or Facebook, to find out the hiring manager’s name. A letter addressed to a specific person or department is more likely to reach the correct individual rather than one addressed to “Whom it may concern.” Think about when you receive mail, which would you read first: a letter addressed to you personally or one that says “Dear Customer”?
Don’t end your letter with a “hope” that someone will contact you or “I look forward to hearing from you.” Instead, indicate how you will follow-up, typically with a phone call or an email, and end with a thank you. For example: “I will be contacting your office within the next week to see if we might set up a time to further explore this opportunity and discuss my qualifications. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration!”
Another attention-grabber is a P.S. line beneath your signature to make a personal connection or impressive statement about your qualifications. If you were referred by someone who works for the company or if you worked there previously and left on good terms, mention that. As Beyond.com suggests, the P.S. section can be powerful because people are naturally drawn to read it word for word. Here are some examples:
P.S. I was referred to you by [Connection’s Name], who speaks very highly of your company. I would be honored to bring value to [Company’s Name] in this role.
P.S. With my history at [ABC Company], I am quite familiar with your company’s culture and business model. I look forward to returning and bringing the valuable knowledge I have gained from [XYZ Company].
P.S. Kudos on your [xx%] increase in sales last [year/month/quarter]. With my [xx] years of experience in [industry], I am excited about this opportunity to contribute to your company’s success and raising that increase.
After you’ve written your cover letter, don’t send it off too quickly. Take time to proofread it for errors so you can make edits, if necessary. Read it aloud to catch mistakes or smooth out sentences that sound awkward. A polished, professional cover letter can send your resume soaring to the top of the candidate pool. So CAPE it well!