3 Key Ingredients to a Compelling Cover Letter
A job application letter isn’t just a “nice addition” to a job application; it is a primary tool for a candidate to make a case for an interview. Your cover letter is an opportunity to present details about your background, experiences and abilities that aren’t clear on the application form or resume. A great cover letter includes three key ingredients: a personal greeting, a targeted presentation and a call to action.
One of the best ways to get immediate attention from the reader of a job application letter is to speak to him personally through your initial greeting. Rather than addressing the letter, “To Whom It May Concern,” or “Dear Hiring Manager,” make it personal with a “Dear Mr. Smith” greeting. If the hiring manager’s name isn’t in a job posting and you can’t find it elsewhere, call the human resources department and ask who is in charge of hiring for a given position.
Do not mass distribute the same general cover letter with your resume to countless employers. You will get more attention and interest from a smaller number of quality letters than from a mass distribution of a generic one. A targeted letter is written specifically to address primary needs and concerns of the hiring manager. It isn’t just a chance to tell an “All About Me” story. You do want to demonstrate what you offer, but with focused examples to match the employer’s desired qualifications.
For a customer service job that requires excellent people skills, you could state, “Realising the strong service reputation of your business, I know you need a customer service representative to possess strong interpersonal skills. In my previous job, I was named top service representative two times and I maintained a 97 percent customer satisfaction score.” This response aligns your proven ability with the employer’s need. In essence, you are selling yourself to the interviewer. Ideally, share similar examples to match three to five core qualities desired for the position.
Call to Action
Don’t overlook the importance of a call to action in your closing paragraph. Standard templates often include, “Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to talking with you more.” While this is adequate, it doesn’t stand out. Add an additional line, such as, “I will call you first thing next week to ensure you received my letter and to follow-up.” This call to action lets the hiring manager know you are serious, and may cause a faster review of your application. It may also compel him to call you first.
Don’t underestimate the impact of a great job application letter. Some hiring managers toss out applicants who don’t include one. Your letter could offer missing details to help you get the interview. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to sell yourself to the person that matters.
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