How to Write a Great Cover
Give me a choice between writing a
cover letter and swimming with sharks, and I'll head for the beach!
Can you offer an easy-to-follow approach for writing cover letters
that captures a recruiter's attention and increases my chances of
landing an interview?
You aren't alone in your distaste for
writing cover letters. Most job seekers are intimidated by the task.
It's very common to doubt one's ability to compose a letter
guaranteed to pique the interest of a hard-nosed recruiter.
Fortunately, by using the neat little
formula I'm about to divulge, you will create cover letters that
produce a much better than average response. While there are just a
few ingredients, together they create a powerful synergy.
The most important thing to remember
is this: you must always tailor your letter to the job you're
pursuing. A one-size-fits-all approach may save you time, but it
will alienate your reader. If you want to engage an employer's
attention, compose your letter with his interests in mind.
Begin by addressing your cover letter
to a real person, if possible. If the ad lists a company, but not
the individual responsible for hiring, call the firm's receptionist
to find out who is collecting resumes for the position. Saying,
"Dear Mr. Janson," is a lot better than "To Whom It May Concern."
Use your first paragraph to establish
a bond between you and the reader. Mention the person who referred
you. Do a little research on the company and list several reasons
why you are interested in working there. Be complimentary. Show
you've done your homework. Don't start your letter with, "I saw your
ad in the Dallas Morning News." Everyone does that. A
targeted first paragraph can set you apart from the crowd more than
any other component of your letter.
Now that you have your reader's fond
attention, tell him about yourself. Write a few sentences that
briefly highlight your accomplishments, skills, and personality
traits most relevant to his needs. You can even use two columns
headed by "You Need" and "I Have," if you want to be very to the
In your final paragraph, tell the
recruiter you will call or email him in a few days to confirm
receipt of your resume and schedule an interview. Then be true to
your word. Employers like candidates with initiative and
perseverance. Unless the ad says "NO calls," don't hesitate to make
the first contact. You'll be one of a very few enterprising
candidates who do.