By Tiffany J. Franklin
Cover letters are one of the pieces of the job search that many job seekers would rather skip. In fact, some will only apply to positions that don’t require them and will say they’ve heard recruiters don’t read them.
In my experience, about half of recruiters see the cover letter as a valuable tool to learn more about a candidate and the other half don’t bother with them. The thing is, you never know which camp the recruiter reading your application falls into, so you may as well hedge your bets and have a great one. After all, a cover letter is really a marketing piece that allows you to make a strong case (backed up by examples) for why this company should hire you. During my recruiting days, I thought they were helpful when I had to decide between two candidates with similar skills – it indicated which candidate was willing to go the extra mile in the application process.
Here are a few tips for how to tackle that first cover letter.
1) At the top, include your address and the date
2) Address the letter to an actual person, not a generic “Dear Hiring Manager.” If you can’t find the contact name, Google “LinkedIn Company Name Recruiter” for ideas. Include contact name, title, company name, and address.
3) Opening Paragraph (I LOVE YOU) – Mention position title, requisition number if listed, why you want the company (see mission statement, About Us page), and a sentence stating why you are qualified to contribute to their team.
4) Middle Paragraphs (YOU LOVE ME) – This is the part where you pick 3-4 examples from your experience and bring your resume to life. Through success stories, you demonstrate your ability to do this job and highlight your transferrable skills. These examples should speak to the key skills mentioned in the job description. It may list 50 different qualifiers, but usually these can be grouped into a few primary categories.
5) Closing Paragraph (LET’S TALK) – Restate your interest and summarize key qualifiers, how to reach you (contact info), that you’ll be available for an interview, and thank them for the consideration.
The first letter may take a little longer to complete, but it’s worth the time investment and you can recycle a large percentage for similar jobs. Just be sure to tailor the I Love You part to each company and use examples best suited to each job description.
Tiffany Franklin is an executive career coach who works with clients of all levels with resume overhauls, cover letters, LinkedIn updates, mock interviews, and career exploration. Learn more and connect at www.linkedin.com/in/tiffanyjfranklin or Tiffany@tjfcareercoach.com.
Photo Credit: peepo/iStockphoto.com