When it comes to job hunting, your cover letter is your best tool to landing an interview.
Many people may have job skills and experiences as good or better than your own but a cover letter is the place where you can really let an employer know who you are in a very personal way. Here are some tips on writing a successful cover letter.
Tips for Great Cover Letter Writing
When writing a cover letter, write it to one person for one job. Don’t write to “Dear Sir” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Obtain the name of the right person and get the right spelling along with that person’s title. Mention the job for which you are applying as well as how you found out about the position.
Points to Highlight to be Effective
Next, speak to special talents which perhaps don’t show up on your resume. What personal characteristics do you have that are needed for this position? If the opening is for a “detail oriented” individual then speak to your volunteer experience shelving books at the library. If the needed skill is “strong customer service”, then you highlight any situation where you’ve worked with the public – anything from Scout cookie sales to running a cash register will help. Whatever examples you give should be concise, clear, and honest.
Now what about mentioning your current employer? Make only positive statements. No matter how stressful or awful your current working situation may be, don’t make negative comments. A good generic statement is: I am looking for a new opportunity where my skills and abilities can be best used. If you don’t wish to be contacted at your place of employment, a simple note to that effect will suffice.
Show your Knowledge
In the cover letter, let the employer know that you know something about the company and their needs. Take the time to learn about the company’s goals. Read copies of business journals or the business section of the local paper. Show an interest in the company just like you want the company to show an interest in you. Show how you can help the company.
In the closing paragraph, be confident and enthusiastic. A good closing statement might be: I look forward to meeting with you in the near future to discuss the needs of XYZ company.
Last tip: Using fancy fonts, colored papers, colored inks, fancy folders, or enclosing extra materials will get your cover letter noticed but not in the way you want. Stick to the professional guidelines of using a standard business font such as Times New Roman and a nice quality paper in either white or cream color.
A cover letter can essentially be considered a “paper interview” so let those talents and your personality shine.