24 September 2015
Author: The ExecuSearch Group
Just like resumes, not all cover letters are created equal. There are those that thoroughly impress a hiring manager and those that get tossed to the side with the rest. No candidate wants their application to fall in the latter pile, but unfortunately, cover letters are just as vulnerable to the black hole as resumes are if they aren’t engaging and well-written. First and foremost, there are a certain number of things every cover letter needs to address: What position you’re applying for What skills, experience, and competencies you have to offer Why you’d be a great fit for that particular position and the company in general, to demonstrate that you’ve done research on the company A thank-you for the employer’s time and consideration In addition, be sure to include your name and contact information in the header; however, your contact information is the only part of your cover letter that should replicate your resume. It’s perfectly okay (and encouraged) to expand upon something listed on your resume, such as certain skills and experience, but don’t use up your valuable cover letter space to simply re-state what your resume already says. A cover letter should be kept to one page, so utilize that space wisely to include what may not fit on your limited CV. For example, if the position you’re applying for requires experience with Excel’s Pivot Tables function and you happen to have that, you’d likely list “Advanced Excel skills, including proficiency with Pivot Tables” in your resume’s “Skills” section. So, when writing your cover letter, why repeat yourself when you can expand upon it? Try writing something like “During my time with company X, I worked on a number of projects in Excel that required heavy usage of Pivot Tables.” Going on to briefly explain one of those projects would be a great way to link up different items on your resume, show credibility, and show that you truly know how to utilize that tool; unfortunately, some do lie on their resumes to get interviews, and employers are on their guard for that. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to write, try asking yourself these questions: What does the employer need from the person in this position? How do I fulfill the employer’s needs? How would I fit into this company’s culture? What past work or academic experiences best prepared me for this role? What do I offer differently from anyone else applying for this position? Finally, make sure your writing style is appropriate for your industry. Are you a creative professional? Then feel free to take a more creative approach and tone. Are you in financial services? It may be best to stick with formal, professional writing. Approaching your writing with the most appropriate tone and angle will show you know your industry well.