Your resume can present your skills, education and experience to a possible employer, but your cover letter must encourage the perspective employer enough to consider you from hundreds of candidates competing for a particular job opening.
Your cover letter must be a presentation of your qualifications and abilities and must be presented in a professional yet personalized format that says you are serious about getting hired. It is your first chance to make a good impression and makes the hiring manager want to continue to read your enclosed resume.
Do You Really Need a Cover Letter?
You bet that you do! It is the first chance you have to market yourself to a perspective employer. It is the most important way to introduce yourself and give a brief highlight of why you think you are right for the position.
Think about this, you would never show up at a perspective employer?s door uninvited, therefore your resume should never just show up on the hiring manager?s desk without some kind of introduction. Your cover letter is that introduction. Through it, you introduce yourself, sell your qualifications and show them that you are a strong candidate for the position. You don?t put too much information into it, just enough to make them interested in learning more about you and what you can offer the company in terms of your abilities and experience.
Cover letters should be created with care. Don?t rush it, take your time to think through what needs to be mentioned in it and write a draft on paper. Go over it afterwards and edit it for spelling and grammar. You don?t want to send a cover letter that is full of errors. Here are some steps to help you create your own cover letter.
Creating a cover letter
1. Get personal
The cover letter should be directed to a specific individual whenever possible. Because many companies recruit for many positions at the same time you should also indicate the position title you are applying for.
2. Why do you want this job?
The cover letter should also say ?why? you are interested in the position. Be clear and get to the point. Cover letters should be specific but concise. The letter should not be more then one page. Perspective employer?s are not looking for your life history in a cover letter, just a brief introduction and overview of your qualifications. Include a few reasons why you think your skills are a good fit for the job and briefly mention the highlights of your career. State your intentions and qualifications. Hiring managers do not want to read a list of skills that have nothing to do with the position you are applying for. They want to see that you have the skills needed to do the job well.
3. Talk about your strengths
Hiring managers want to know why you think you are right for the position. Tell them in a big way by listing some of your major career accomplishments. The point here is to make the best impression that says how much value you can bring to the job. Some examples may include:
? Increased sales by 93 percent in first quarter.
? Renegotiated leases or loans at a reduced interest rate that resulted in a yearly savings of $50,000.
? Implemented new processes that resulted in savings of 100 man-hours.
4. No Negative Information
Never include any negative information or remarks of any kind. Especially about your current or past employers or coworkers. This will turn off the reader and your resume will never get read.
5. Salary and/or Relocation Information
Include this information only if the perspective employer requests it and do not include it on your resume. If requested, the cover letter is the place where you should include it or create a separate sheet listing your salary history. Salary is usually negotiated once you become a clear choice for the position. Never ask how much the position pays. The interviewer may ask you what starting salary you are looking for, but rarely will tell you how much the position pays until you become a clear choice for the job.
6. Take charge
Make sure that you mention in the cover letter that you are available for a personal interview. Include all your contact information so that the perspective employer has several ways to reach you, E.g. email, phone, cell etc.
A professionally written, error-free cover letter can open the door to your dream job or to a new career and will increase your chances of getting the interview.