Though the resume will detail why you are right for a position, the resume cover letter will explain why employers should bother with the resume. Though often overlooked, the cover letter is an essential part of the interview process. It is your first impression. Potential employers will scan this for the facts, seeing if they should even bother with your resume. If you present a well structured and informative cover letter, you are sure to get a second look; if not…. your resume is likely to be tossed aside.
A resume cover letter, therefore, must be given the same amount of attention the resume gets. To do this, we will outline some simply steps for you to take:
One: remember the intention. A cover letter is supposed to be a brief–yes, brief–look at why you are suited for the position. It should only tell facts and accomplishments related to the job. This is not a recap of your life so don’t treat it as such.
Two: be wary of templates. Often, people will copy and paste an
already-written cover letter and just fill in the blanks. This is
potentially dangerous. Employers are used to seeing these templates, for they all use the same clichés and phrases. It is best to create your own. Better to be original rather than part of the massive string of “I have excellent communication skills” and “I know how to motivate my team”.
Three: keep it positive. Your resume cover letter should never try to explain the negative aspects of your life (why you have been out of the career loop for a while, why you decided to quit your former job, etc.). Such things can be explained in an interview, where you can go into actual detail, rather than trying to fit your history into a few lines. Instead, your cover letter should be an assertion of your skills. You are selling yourself within less than a page; use details that relate to the position.
Four: personalize. This does not mean to use your favored stationary and use colorful font. Instead, this means to address the letter to the appropriate person, letting them know that you have researched the company and know you have to deal with them. This also keeps you from sending the same resume out to every job; not all details will apply to every position, so it is good to personalize each cover letter accordingly. Avoid the “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern”. Often, this shows a lack of interest to employers who feel you could have done a bit of research to see who you would be speaking with.
Five: never underestimate the edit. As with the resume, you should always edit and rewrite your cover letter. Do not simply scan the first draft and declare it, “Finished”. It’s not. You must read and rewrite. Look for any spelling or punctuation errors, cliches or poorly worded sentences. You only have a limited amount of space; make it perfect.
Six: keep it short. As it has been said before, a cover letter must be brief. This means that you should never exceed a page and, preferably, not even fill up that. Employers are too busy to read paragraph after paragraph. So, instead, give them simple facts. Draw their attention to what is important, rather than hiding it in an epic of details. If your cover letter is too long, employers are likely to scan it, rather than read it, and toss it, rather than keep it.
The resume cover letter is an essential part of the job search; use these tips to create one worthy of your skills.
Catching and Keeping Attention: The
Letter is brought to you by
Resume Maker the online
resume builder that guides you step by step to make a resume.