Cover Letter Help

Five Tips for Creating an Impressive Resume

You can have the most innovative resume, complete with professional looking font and fabulous stationary, but believe it or not, it might not be what gets you in the door.  Many people overlook the value of a good cover letterand what it can do to increase your chances for landing yourself an interview.

Cover letters gives applicants the opportunity to strut their stuff in half a page or less and provides recruiters with a quick and easy way to determine if they want to further pursue the applicant and conduct a more fulsome review of their credentials and work experience.  The cover letter is like your first impression in an interview.  You only have about the first 30 seconds into it that the person reviewing it makes a determination as to whether or not you’ll be a good fit for the position.

How do you accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of setting yourself apart from the pack?  Well, here are a few guidelines to follow to help your cover letter get your foot in the door.

A Generic Cover Letter Will Be Eaten By The Recycle Bin

Let’s clarify this one a little bit.  If you are applying for a job that requires a very conservative approach, then follow the direction given by the job posting.  However, if you are applying for a job that you really want and actually hope to get, then you had better leave the traditional generic cover letter in the rear-view mirror.

A hiring manager with a keen eye will immediately screen through and figure you’ve sent the same boring intro letter to 20 other companies and throw it in the recycle bin.  It might sound harsh, but what makes a recruiter think that you actually want to work there when you weren’t willing to customize the cover letter for them?  There is a difference between wanting a job and wanting that job.  You need to infuse your personality into your career statement.  Tell them why you are applying and what makes you amazing and how this would benefit them.

Always Address A Person

Do not use the humdrum “to whom it may concern” or “dear sir” when you’re writing a cover letter.  Figure out who the head of the department is by doing a little research.  It makes your cover letter that much more personable and more likely to be read.

Keep It Simple

Don’t use cover letters to condense your entire life history, that’s what your resume is for.  Keep your cover letter simple and to the point.  Bang out the benefits to the company if they hire you, and sell yourself in five lines or less.  That’s it.  Be witty and let your personality shine through.

Don’t forget, your cover letter needs to have a way to contact you on it!  Once you make an outstanding impression, a recruiter does not want to have to dig through your resume to find your phone number.  List it on the top or bottom of your cover letter and just sit back and wait for the phone to ring.

__________________________________________

How to Address a Cover Letter

How to address a cover letter can be tricky if you are responding to a blind ad and don’t have a contact person’s name to include or you don’t know the hiring manager’s gender. Here are tips on how to address a cover letter.

How to Address a Cover Letter

If you don’t have a contact person at the company you can either leave off the saluation from your cover letter and start with the first paragraph of your letter or use a general salutation.

There a variety of cover letter salutations you can use to address your letter. Employers who responded to a recent employer survey conducted by Saddleback College preferred:

  • Dear Hiring Manager (40%)
  • To whom it may concern (27%)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

Once you have chosen a salutation, follow it with a colon or comma, a space, and then start the first paragraph of your letter. For example:

Dear Hiring Manager:

First paragraph of letter.

How to Address a Cover Letter for a Non-Gender Specific Name

If you do have a name, but aren’t sure of the person’s gender, an option is to include both the first name and the last name in your salutation:

  • Dear Sydney Doe
  • Dear Taylor Smith

__________________________________________

10 Cover Letter Don’ts

By Kim Isaacs, Monster Resume ExpertYour cover letter is the first thing employers see when they open your materials. Avoid these 10 mistakes, and make your first impression a good and lasting one. 

Mistake No. 1: Overusing ‘I’

Your cover letter is not your autobiography. The focus should be on how you meet an employer’s needs, not on your life story. Avoid the perception of being self-centered by minimizing your use of the word “I,” especially at the beginning of your sentences.

Mistake No. 2: Using a Weak Opening

When writing a cover letter, job seekers frequently struggle with the cover letter’s opening This difficulty often results in a feeble introduction lacking punch and failing to grab the reader’s interest. Consider this example:

  • Weak: Please consider me for your sales representative opening.
  • Better: Your need for a top-performing sales representative is an excellent match to my three-year history as a top-ranked, multimillion-dollar producer.

Mistake No. 3: Omitting Your Top Selling Points

A cover letter is a sales letter that sells you as a candidate. Just like the resume, it should be compelling and give the main reasons you should be called for an interview. Winning cover letter tips include emphasizing your top accomplishments or creating subheadings culled from the job posting. For example:

Mistake No. 4: Making It Too Long

If your cover letter exceeds one page, you may be putting readers to sleep. A great cover letter is concise but compelling, and respects the reader’s time.

Mistake No. 5: Repeating Your Resume Word for Word

Your cover letter shouldn’t regurgitate what’s on your resume. Reword your cover letter statements to avoid dulling your resume’s impact. Consider using the letter to tell a brief story, such as “My Toughest Sale” or “My Biggest Technical Challenge.”

Mistake No. 6: Being Vague

If you’re replying to an advertised opening, reference the specific job title in your cover letter. The person reading your letter may be reviewing hundreds of letters for dozens of different jobs. Make sure all the content in your letter supports how you will meet the employer’s specific needs.

Mistake No. 7: Forgetting to Customize

If you’re applying to a number of similar positions, chances are you’re tweaking one letter and using it for multiple openings. That’s fine, as long as you customize each letter. Don’t forget to update the company, job and contact information — if Mr. Jones is addressed as Ms. Smith, he won’t be impressed.

Mistake No. 8: Ending on a Passive Note

When possible, put your future in your own hands with a promise to follow up. Instead of asking readers to call you, try a statement like this: I will follow up with you in a few days to answer any preliminary questions you may have. In the meantime, you may reach me at (555) 555-5555.

Mistake No. 9: Being Rude

Your cover letter should thank the reader for his time and consideration.

Mistake No. 10: Forgetting to Sign the Letter

It is proper business etiquette (and shows attention to detail) to sign your letter. However, if you are sending an email cover letter and resume, a signature isn’t necessary.

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