A great cover letter will help your resume stand out and significantly increase your chances of being called in for an interview. Here are 11 cover letter tips that will increase your chances of getting an interview:
- Format correctly. Like your resume, the cover letter MUST be error-free and structured correctly. Use 1 font throughout the document, keep it to 1 page, and print it on high-quality paper.
- Personalize. The cover letter should be addressed to a specific person (not “to whom it may concern”), you should reference the position you want, and you should tailor each cover letter based on the job description for the position.
- Start strong. Use an attention-grabbing first sentence that highlights why you are the best candidate for the job.
- Highlight. Use examples to show how you have the skills, traits, and/or experience relevant for the job (i.e. shown in the job description). In general, employers want to hire people with enthusiasm for the position and the company, people with strong character and work habits, people with strong people/communication skills, and people who get results. Be specific, and sell yourself.
- Focus on results, not responsibilities. Like your resume, your cover letter should not focus on what you have done. Instead, you should focus on what has resulted from the work you have done. You must explain how you have made other people or organizations better.
- Explain glaring weaknesses. If you have a significant weakness in your resume, you can address it in the cover letter. For instance, if you are a senior about to graduate from college and you have never had an internship position, you should reference what you did instead during your time off from school. If you are a theater major applying for a position at an investment bank, that would also be worth explaining briefly.
- Build credibility through references. If you were referred to the hiring person, you should definitely mention that in the cover letter. If not, try to see if you can find a connection within the company or someone who knows the decision-maker (i.e. an alumnus from your college.) You can also include a quote from a performance review or from a letter of recommendation. For example, my boss at ABC Company referred to me as the “hardest working and most proactive intern the company has ever had.”
- Answer the 2 key questions. Your cover letter must demonstrate why you want the job and why you are the best candidate for the job.
- Let your personality shine. The cover letter should remain professional, but it should show your personality and bring your resume to life. For example, you could share a quick story that explains why you want the job so badly. A great story will build intrigue and have a hiring person thinking you were destined for the job.
- Close with a call-to-action. You should end your cover letter with something like, “I will call you next week to answer any questions you may have and to discuss how I can help _____ (insert company name) achieve ______ (insert the specific results the company mentioned in the job description). You may also reach me at xxx-xxx-xxxx or email@example.com in the meantime.”
- Follow-up. If the hiring person does not respond to you, you must follow-up when you said you would.
Do you want to improve your chances of being called in for an interview? Then, include a personalized, well-written cover letter every time you apply for a job!
-Career Expert and Professional Speaker
-President of Idealize Enterprises
P.S. I speak about career success to students and young professionals nationwide. To learn more about my programs and speaking availability, please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.