When you’re responding to a job posting or ad, you want to make sure you write a cover letter that rocks. Your cover letter represents you to the potential employer. A great cover letter that rocks will separate you from the other cover letters that get thrown into the trash can. A great cover letter will determine what your interviewer thinks about you before they actually meet you face to face. In advertising, the gurus say you have about eight seconds to make a first impression. Your cover letter has one chance – an eight second chance – to tell them who you are. Here’s how to write a cover letter that rocks:
KEEP IT SIMPLE.
This is not a personal letter, or a letter that goes into painfully long details about you. Set it up this way from top – your address, their address, a line for reference if needed, a salutation (Don’t use Mr. or Ms. unless specified; never use Mrs.), the main letter body, closing and signature line. Make sure it’s all aligned to the left of the page. Print it out on a good quality white paper, or paper that matches your resume. Sign the letter in blue or black ink.
WRITE CLEARLY AND CONCISELY.
This cover letter says a lot about you. One of the main things it says to a prospective employer is how well you communicate. If you are a bit shaky or uncertain about your writing skills, have a professional writer or business person you trust look at and revise your cover letter if necessary. Remember, you have eight seconds to get their attention, make a good impression, and give them a reason to keep reading.
TO WHOM YOU ARE APPLYING.
You’re just wasting your time if you write a great cover letter and you don’t even know the person to whom you are writing. 90% of cover letters with “To Whom It May Concern” are junk. Do your homework here, find out who is going to be your boss. This is probably the same person who will be interviewing you. Address your letter to this person, but address the envelope to the main company address, or the address shown in the ad.
TELL THEM WHO YOU ARE.
And tell them why you would be perfect for this position and use the information you’ve picked up from researching their company to convince them why hiring you would be better than the other person.
THE BODY OF YOUR COVER LETTER.
Probably the most important part of your cover letter is the body, and especially the first paragraph. Make clear for which job you are applying and where you got the information about the job (ad, listing, referral, etc.). Also include any reference numbers that may be listed with the job in the ad. The next paragraphs should focus on you and why you want to work for this particular company, doing this particular job. Tell them why you are a good fit for this job. Be sure to mention any special training or qualifications that make you stand out from other applicants.
USE POSITIVE LANGUAGE.
Don’t use words like “if” or “perhaps” in your cover letter. You are trying to communicate to them that you are focused, purposeful, and direct – not wishy-washy and indecisive. Write the letter as if you already know they will be contacting you about the job. Write the letter so they will know you are the best person for this job- because you are!
Don’t skimp – use a good quality, plain white paper. Check with your local stationery store. Clip your cover letter to your resume, don’t staple it. Make sure it’s folded neatly. Follow these tips and you’ll write a great cover letter that rocks.