Nuts and Bolts of Effective Cover
by Linda Matias
As a job seeker, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of a cover letter. If
written strategically, a cover letter increases your chances for consideration,
and provides an opportunity to highlight your individuality.
A cover letter is much more than just a letter stating, “I read the job
announcement in Sunday’s classified, please accept this letter as an application
of interest”. It is a statement that tells the reader what they can expect from
you if hired.
The challenging part of writing a cover letter is determining what
information to include. After all, all the juicy information was included in the
resume. What could you possibly add to the cover letter that will add substance
to your qualifications?
Keep in mind that the resume and cover letter have different purposes. A
resume demonstrates that you can do the job, it highlights your past
accomplishments, while a cover letter points out the extent to which you match
the job requirements for a specific a company and how you will fit in.
A well-written cover letter gives you an advantage over your competition
because it provides another opportunity to showcase your experience and
Cover letter basics can be mastered by following the pointers below.
Sell! Sell! Sell!
A cover letter is more than just a business letter; it is a sales letter. Begin
with a strong introduction, layout the benefits you offer, and establish
credibility by showcasing your accomplishments.
Write as you speak.
The cover letter should have a professional conversational tone, but sound as
though a real person wrote it. Many people fall in the trap of using big word to
communicate their message. Instead, write in a straightforward manner that
entices the reader to review the resume. The words you choose should demonstrate
enthusiasm for the position, company and industry.
Write from the reader’s perspective.
Action words should not be reserved for the resume. Begin each sentence with a
power word. Don’t use a passive voice. Avoid starting sentences with the word
“I.” Like the resume, the cover letter’s focus is on the hiring company, and
beginning too many sentences with “I” puts the spotlight too much on you.
Don’t rehash your resume.
Be creative when presenting your qualifications and accomplishments. You don’t
want to bore the reader by simply repeating the information you included in your
resume. Find different ways to communicate the same message. The best way to do
this is by selecting
three to five major selling points and highlighting them in the body of the
cover letter. Doing so will entice the reader to do more than just glance at
Ask for an interview.
Be proactive. In the last paragraph tell the reader that you will be contacting
him or her to setup a meeting time. After all, the purpose of applying for a job
is to be invited in for an interview, so don’t be shy, go for it.
You should use every tool at your disposal to secure an interview. Targeted
cover letters add to your portfolio of qualifications and deserve as much
consideration as a resume.
Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The
National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street
Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. Visit her website
or email her at email@example.com.