Your cover letter is your first, albeit brief, introduction to a hiring manager. It is your opportunity to pique their interest and entice them to want to see what your resume holds. Because there is more flexibility with a cover letter, you can infuse some additional personality while still keeping it professional. Your cover letter should really highlight what you bring to the table and how you align with the job you are applying for.
It can be beneficial to always include a cover letter unless the application specifically states not to. Worst case scenario, the hiring manager doesn’t read it. Best case scenario, they do and it gives you an edge. When crafting your cover letter, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Address it to an actual person. Do your best to identify who is in charge of hiring or who your resume will be directed toward. A little bit of research or asking around can help you to uncover this information. It makes a stronger impression when you are directly addressing the person in charge and show that you have taken the initiative to find out who that is. Hiring managers probably read many cover letters that use the generic “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Hiring Manager” so make yourself stand out from the start when possible.
- Mention connections. If you know someone who works for the company already, mention their name in the cover letter. This will catch the attention of the person reading your documents and show that you already have some knowledge of the company and a reference from within. Use your network to your advantage to connect you with job openings and give you more insight into the companies you are applying to.
- Align your strengths with their needs. Use the job opening as well as what you know about the company to emphasize how you fit their needs. How can you better serve them through your experience and accomplishments? Pick out those key points that best illustrate your abilities to do what they need.
- Use bullet points. Avoid the temptation to write several paragraphs. Have an opening paragraph, a closing paragraph, and three to four concise bullet points in the middle. Not only will this cut down on length, it also draws their attention to the main points you want to emphasize. There is less chance this information will be overlooked because the hiring manager isn’t skimming through a wordy document trying to pull out what’s most important.
- End with a call to action. Rather than just thanking the hiring manager for their time, be more assertive. Mention that you will follow up or look forward to meeting with them to further discuss your qualifications. Have confidence in your abilities and show that you are serious about the position.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is missing the opportunity to include a customized cover letter. You never know when this could give you an advantage and make you stand out in the hiring manager’s mind – for the right reasons of course.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: 5 Tips to Make your Cover Letter Stand Out
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