Hiring managers receive countless resumes for just one position, so they can be selective as to which ones are even worth their time. Increase the chances of your resume being read by preparing a customized cover letter. Include a few qualifications that align to the specific job you are applying for, make it personal and organize it in a way that will catch the eye of a potential employer.
The purpose of a cover letter is to get a hiring manager to want to know more about you. Even if a job posting doesn’t require a cover letter, you should always send one.
“It’s not always obvious from your resume why you are the best fit for a position. You need to describe why you are qualified,” says Jesika McCauley, director of career services for Globe University. “It shows you’re taking your job search seriously and not just sending out a bunch of resumes.”
McCauley recommends taking the time to write a well thought-out letter, especially if you are transitioning to a new industry or don’t have much related experience. A customized cover letter is a good way to show how much you want a certain position.
“Use the job description to highlight specific strengths and include them in your letter,” says McCauley. “Don’t use the exact same language, but use a similar tone.”
McCauley stresses doing your research on to whom you should address your cover letter. If the contact is not listed on the job description, check the website or the company’s LinkedIn page for who does the hiring. Or you can simply call and ask who you should write to.
“Your very last option should be to say something like ‘Dear human resources,’” McCauley says. “Never start with ‘To whom it may concern.’ That shows a lack of effort.”
The heading on your cover letter with your name and contact information should be the same as the one on your resume and references sheet. McCauley says this is important because it ties together your personal brand across all documents. Since your header and the contact’s information takes up quite a bit of room, McCauley says the content portion of your letter should be about a half to three-quarters of a page long, as to not exceed one page in length total.
Organization is key to a good cover letter. It should be neat and concise, ensuring you get your point across to the employer as clearly as possible.
The first paragraph should state the position you’re applying for and include a preview of what the rest of your letter contains. The body should describe why you are a good candidate for the job and how your education or experience has prepared you.
“The middle section should summarize your professional experience that aligns with the job,” McCauley says. “Use examples of specific achievements or projects you’ve completed.”
The final paragraph should include the next step, telling the employer how they can contact you or that you will be in contact. This is also where you can be direct and ask for an interview.
“If you’re not comfortable coming right out and asking for an interview, say something about how you look forward to discussing the position more – something that addresses what is going to happen next.”
A well-written cover letter can be your ticket to a job interview. Customize, personalize and organize your letter to ensure you won’t be passed over. To learn more about Globe University and career support services visit www.globeuniversity.edu/about-us/career-services.