Now that you have your resume in place, applying for a job is next. Doing this requires you to: 1. Know exactly what you are looking for and 2. Be prepared to sell yourself to the potential employer. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a solid cover letter in place.
Writing a cover letter can be an arduous task, but the benefits you reap from doing this are well worth the time and effort. While many believe cover letters are no longer necessary, they do in fact serve a purpose – and a good one at that. A well-written cover letter showcases your personality and provides context to your resume. I always tell clients a cover letter should compliment your resume, not duplicate it. That’s where many people go wrong. They write a cover letter simply regurgitating what is already on their resume, thus boring the reader. You need to capture their attention and sell yourself here. This is why we, as HR professionals, sometimes overlook cover letters. You have to be sure to capture our attention within the first few sentences and give us something to work with – something that makes you stand out. Many times, a well-written cover letter will bring out things that a resume won’t, so don’t minimize it’s importance.
Another important thing to note is that you should have a cover letter for each role you have applied for. Do your research on the company and add any ongoing themes that your skills could help address or improve. For example, if I apply for an HR Director role and in my research, I find that this company is having employee retention issues, then I would address how I have been able to achieve results throughout my career in developing successful retention plans. Show them you did your research and how you can be an asset to their organization. This will make you stand out against other candidates and get you to the next phase in the process – reading your resume.
Here are a few tips to help you create the perfect cover letter:
- Set the stage:
- Consider your audience, maintain a positive/confident tone and remember to focus on how you can add value to the organization.
- Use a simple format:
- As with your resume, stick to a professional font, avoid using caps/italics/bold print.
- Consider instructions provided by company:
- If directions were provided, be sure to follow them correctly.
- If no directions were provided, send one file with the cover letter as Page 1 of your resume.
- Read your cover letter out loud:
- Again, as with your resume, read out loud will allow you to catch any grammatical errors.
Remember, this is part of your first impression -make sure it counts. If you need assistance with templates or in general, how to structure your cover letter, please reach out to us!