The debate about the necessity of a cover letter seems to be never-ending. Some recruiters, HR pros or hiring managers require them, while others completely shun them. If you want to compose a nifty career summary to introduce yourself to a potential employer, try this radical way to capture attention.
A standard cover letter usually goes for 10 to 12 sentences about why you're the perfect fit for the job. Instead of full and complete sentences, consider a faster way to lay out your best attributes. Write a Your Needs and My Qualifications table that serves as the bulk of the correspondence.
What This Looks Like
A needs/qualifications table shows the skills you bring that meet the employer's qualifications in an easy-to-read table divided into two columns. On the left column, make the heading Your Needs, while on the right column, start with the heading My Qualifications. Underneath the two headings, list an item in the job description with your matching qualification along the same row. This presents a simple cover letter format for a quick read.
How to Compose It
Write a brief introductory sentence above the chart and a concluding sentence below it. Even though this is a tabular format, you can still write complete sentences on the My Qualifications side of the cover letter to show you communicate effectively when you detail your experience, accomplishments, character and personality. Start with five- to seven- line items in the job description and compose one to two sentences on how you fulfill each one.
As an example, say the top item in the job description is "Bachelor's degree required." Your first sentence can say, "I obtained a B.A. in public relations from Smith University while graduating with honors." The same goes for "Five to seven years experience," when you write, "I worked 10 years among three public relations firms immediately after graduating college."
Adding Personal Touches
Include a few qualifications and needs not found in the job description. In the Your Needs column, try adding "Passion for the job" as a row by itself. Then you can write a sentence in your cover letter that states, "I remember getting my first Smithco toy for Christmas when I was 8 years old. I still have my special Smithco baby doll on my desk at home." These statements show why you have a passion for the position.
Make sure to include hard, provable numbers in your verbiage. A need that says "Communication skills" can be fulfilled by the sentence, "I created and gave business presentations every week for three years in front of 10 to 15 people as a way to market Acme Brick's products to clients. During this time, sales increased 5 percent quarter over quarter." Even though numbers may sound bland, these help you stand out from the crowd.
This radical way to write a cover letter is easy to follow and contains the meat of your professional experience. Hiring managers, recruiters and HR professionals love easy-to-read formats, so this type of correspondence can give you an edge over other candidates.
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