The cover letter is an essential piece of your job search arsenal: It provides a glimpse of your experience, compatibility and professionalism in just a few concise paragraphs. The purpose of your cover letter is to not only grab the hiring manager's attention but also to showcase your talent and personality in a more conversational format than your resume. Here are a few tips to create the most enticing cover letter.
Your cover letter's first goal should be to grab the reader's attention right away. Remember, hiring managers sometimes have to sift through piles of hundreds of applications during heavy hiring periods. If you don't entice the reader from the first sentence, your entire application could end up in the trash. Far too many candidates make the mistake of opening their cover letter with a cookie-cutter introduction such as "I'm applying for the position of... ." Don't make this mistake. The reader already knows what position you're applying for; try inserting some useful knowledge here. Open with a bold statement or statistic to pique the reader's curiosity. You could even go with a sales pitch or a little bit of professional humor. No matter what you choose to open with, the point is to make it exciting.
Take advantage of the fact that a cover letter allows you to get a little more personal than your resume. Don't be afraid to share your story. Provide the reader with some insight into why you chose this industry or position by discussing your passions, your industry knowledge and your connections. Now is the time to communicate your personality and enthusiasm and get the reader excited to meet you. Think of your cover letter as your resume in color.
Avoid making the common mistake of regurgitating your resume information into the body of your cover letter. The cover letter's purpose is to complement and support your resume with interesting insights about you, the candidate. Highlight the best parts of your resume and expand on them with some background information and additional details. For instance, if your resume lists your amazing sales record, use a few sentences within your cover letter to discuss your accomplishments further, using names, percentages and other enticing details to support your claims.
Finally, don't be afraid to let your cover letter ask for exactly what you want: an interview. In sales, it is a rule of thumb to ask for the sale. Think of your cover letter the same way. Remember, your cover letter is simply a supporting tool that is intended to influence and persuade your reader to do something for you — grant you an interview. It would be shameful to craft a unique, inviting, charismatic letter and forget to ask for the interview. Simply stating that you're looking forward to scheduling an interview with that person is enough of an invitation to get things moving.
While composing a great cover letter may feel like an unnecessary or daunting task, it is absolutely crucial to your job search efforts in today's highly competitive market. Many candidates ignore the cover letter's importance; use this to your advantage by always including one. A compelling, attention-grabbing cover letter may be the key to getting your foot in the door at your dream job.
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