When it comes to searching for a new job, whether you are currently employed or unemployed, having a solid cover letter can help you succeed. Even if your resume is top-notch and has impeccable references, a bad cover letter can kill your job search. Getting the right attention means presenting yourself in a compelling manner – much like the way as a sales person will pitch a new prospect. It’s about looking as valuable as you can to a potential employer.
Keep in mind that recruiters and Human Resource managers spend roughly 15 seconds reviewing an applicant’s resume and cover letter. This means that you must ensure that your cover letter is an attention grabber so the recruiter continues to read through your work experience.
We have put together some of the best tips available to construct a cover letter that will “sell” you to prospective employers.
Be Truthful in Selling Yourself
One of the most important tips for a successful cover letter is to be as truthful as possible when writing down your information. If you cannot remember employment dates, it is fine to estimate, but do not outright lie on your cover letter or your resume. Recruiters have been sifting through thousands of these documents for years, which means that they will be able to spot a lie almost immediately. You are more likely to receive an interview based on truth than any lie you could weave.
Short, Sweet, and to the Point
Writing a cover letter should not take you more than 20 minutes if done correctly. It should be one-page long, with three or four paragraphs at the most. If you need a second page when printing it out, you need to spend some time editing what you have written. Think of this; TV ads have 30 seconds to sell you a product. Make sure your letter can be read in 30 seconds or less while selling your strongest assets.
Include Info Missing from Resume
It is understandable that you might not include everything about you in your resume. For instance, if you are applying for a staff writer position, you might want to mention in your cover letter that you write on the side for fun outside of what you have done as a professional. Use the cover letter to sell other aspects of your professional experience that you left off your resume.
Make it Personal
If you take only one tip away from this article, make sure it is this one. Personalize your cover letter for each job you apply to so that the recruiter knows you are speaking directly to him or her. Do not address the letter “To whom it may concern.” Instead, find out who the hiring manager is, who the HR manager is, or who the department head is and address that individual in the letter. This will get your letter noticed and possibly put you at the top of the pile.
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Looking for some cover letter templates? Try these: