Busy job seekers may wonder why they need to build a cover letter when their resume already says so much about them. True, a solid resume should answer many of the employer's questions about your qualifications. However, there are some details that could intrigue a potential employer that simply won't fit into a resume format.
Herein lies the power of a well-written cover letter. It should connect the dots between your work experience, education, and skills by highlighting your greatest relevant selling points. A well-written cover letter also offers the chance to demonstrate professionalism and personality, which help set you apart from other qualified candidates.
To build a cover letter that inspires the hiring manager to call you in for that all-important interview, consider the following:
Think of a cover letter as a valuable piece of marketing material. To grab the attention of a hiring manager, it must showcase the product – you – in the best possible light. A cover letter that regurgitates the accompanying resume can leave a reader bored instead of eager to take action. More importantly, it's a lost opportunity to connect your skill set to the requirements of the role.
To build cover letter content that will get noticed, pinpoint what distinguishes you from the rest of the talent pool. Which of your achievements make you burst with pride? Which parts of your work history match the job posting the closest? Do your best to make direct connections between your experience and the requirements of the role.
Now, go for the "sale" by providing evidence to back up your claims. Use strong verbs that paint a vivid picture. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible. For example, instead of saying that you are a great writer, mention that you published 20 articles in five major publications last year. This is a tangible way to back up your assertion that you possess stellar writing skills.
When it comes to hard skills, be sure to include appropriate industry-specific terms to convey your aptitude. And don't forget soft skills. A cover letter is a great place to explain how these desirable character traits and interpersonal skills have come in handy in your past roles.
For example, if the employer wants a team player, cite an instance of how you facilitated collaboration on a key project. Does the job involve interacting with the public? Recount how your patience and tactful negotiation skills turned a disgruntled shopper into a loyal customer.
Since priorities vary by employer, each cover letter needs tailoring to the specific position. Such customization takes time, but this effort and attention to detail can mean the difference between "sealing the deal" and the rejection pile.
The greatest content in the world loses its effectiveness if presented sloppily. This means that it's critical to learn how to build a cover letter that is eye-catching both figuratively and literally.
When it comes to cover letter formats, candidates often get nervous about whether their cover letter is "correct" in terms of spacing, margins, and set-up. They also wonder about the placement of items such as the date, the salutation, and contact info.
Avoid the guesswork by turning to LiveCareer's Cover Letter Builder to produce a logical, professional-looking document. Besides ensuring your cover letter contains all the necessary components, it makes "extras," such as creating bullet points for readability, a breeze.
In a tight labor market, building a cover letter that is close to perfect could make the difference between getting an interview or getting tossed in the "no" pile. Proofreading is a critical step to ensuring that your document is free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Read over your cover letter at least twice before sending it off, and send it to a trusted friend for a second look. Or, use LiveCareer's Cover Letter Builder, which features an automatic spelling and grammar check, which ensures your document is clean and accurate every time.