Recruiters claim to spend five minutes looking at each applicant's resume, but recent studies suggest it is closer to six seconds. With so little time to make an impression, your cover letter needs to be perfect. If you're not getting results, try rewriting your cover letter with the following things in mind.
According to Forbes Magazine, 118 people apply, on average, to "any given job." Of those, only about 20 percent are interviewed. With that kind of competition, your cover letter needs a strong hook to get the reader's attention. Don't start with "I'm writing to" or "I'd like to apply." The recruiter or hiring manager already knows that and has read it dozens, even hundreds, of times. Think about what skills make you the best fit for the job and lead with that. Instead of starting with "I'd like to apply for the position of Restaurant Manager," try something like "With 12 years experience in a professional kitchen, I know exactly what it takes to be a successful Restaurant Manager."
Pick the Right Skills for the Right Job
Your cover letter needs to introduce your resume, not summarize it. Convince the hiring manager to take a closer look at your resume by expanding on the two or three skills from your resume that are most important to the job. Look at the job description to get an idea of the skills to use. When you talk about those skills, tie them to that description by using similar language. For instance, if the job description says the job requires the "ability to work in a team setting" try to use that phrase in your cover letter.
Be Direct and Confident
Don't use soft phrases like "I think" or "I believe." If you are going to say something, say it with confidence. Instead of saying, "I think I'm a good fit for this job," say, "I am a good fit for this job." Not only does it convey a sense of self-assurance, but the word-economy also provides a tighter read.
Don't just tell the reader you are right for the job, show him. Every point you make in your cover letter needs to be backed up with a specific example. For instance, to highlight your time management skills you might say something like, "During college, I used my time management skills to maintain a 4.0 GPA while working full time in a busy law office."
If you are qualified for the jobs you are applying to, you should be seeing results. If you aren't seeing those results, try rewriting your cover letter. Get the reader's attention by starting strong, using examples and writing with confidence. Make every cover letter specific to the job to which you are applying.
(Photo courtesy of Ambro / freedigitalphotos.net)