Many people know how to write a great resume, but ignore the most important aspect of the initial job application – the cover letter. Whilst the resume showcases your skills and experience, the cover letter gives a prospective employer their reasons for reading it. When a busy professional gets tens or hundreds of applications across their desk, they want to know why they should be spending valuable time bothering to read the resume as well as the cover letter.
So don’t waste your opportunity! Make sure that your cover letter, even if it is just in an email, contains all of the key aspects that will make an employer sit up and notice, and be intrigued enough about you to pick up your resume and call you back for an interview!
Here are some tips on making that cover letter the best it can be.
Hook The Interest
Starting a cover letter saying ‘my name is such and such and I’m applying for xxx position’ is the best way to immediately lose the reader’s interest. They already know who you are and what you’re applying for because they received an email from you with the correct reference in the subject line. Try capturing interest with a bold (but still professional) pitch.
Don’t Simply Repeat Your Resume
A lot of people think that all a cover letter needs to be is a resume in paragraph form, but that is just wasting space and time. Use the opportunity to show your personality and your interests in the field that you’re applying in. There’s an opportunity to sprinkle facts about the company or your field, demonstrating your expertise in your area, and your interest in the company.
Keep It Short
Try and keep your cover letter to three paragraphs. As mentioned before, most employers are high on candidates, but short on time. Make it snappy and to the point, keeping the waffle to the minimum.
Send It In A Universal Format
Nowadays, there are a number of word processing programs that people use, from MS Word to Apple’s Pages, or free software like Open Office. Even within word, there are several file types, depending on the version you are using. Don’t assume that whoever is receiving your email will have the software to open your attachments immediately. Even if they do, some conversions can change the formatting, If they’re having to convert the file themselves, many may not bother and will move onto the next candidate. The best universal format is PDF, as almost everyone uses it professionally and you can guarantee that the formatting they see will be the same as when you wrote it.
Address Your Letter Correctly
Do your research. A letter addressed to the hiring manager or recruiter shows that you’ve cared enough about the position to at least read the full job description or do a little internet research if it wasn’t already provided.
There are a lot of other top tips out there – if you want more, make sure you look at this Business Insider article.