The old saying is true: “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” But when it comes to seeking employment, your first impression is unlikely to be the one you make face to face. There are hurdles you have to jump before you even get to the interview. Standing in your way is the dreaded cover letter; a faceless piece of paper that confronts your prospective employer well before you’ll have the chance to. And that piece of paper may well determine whether you’ll ever get to meet that employer at all. That’s a daunting proposition.
But let’s look at the glass as half full; this is a step in the employment process that many overlook, so let’s find a way to be proactive and make your cover letter stand out among the rest. We asked the Hatch team, “What are 5 things you can do to improve your cover letter and improve your chances of getting you that interview?”
1. Give information in the cover letter that can’t be found in the resume. This may sound obvious, but all too often cover letters are simply a rehash of the resume. This is your chance to peak the interest of your prospective employer. What they don’t want to see is a list of your former duties and responsibilities. Grab their attention from the get-go and compel them to move on to your resume.
2. Describe what makes you more appealing than all of the other candidates out there. “I’m perfect for this job and here’s why!” And while you’re at it, use the language from the job description. If that description uses such language as “self-starter” or “highly organized” of “multi-tasking” incorporate it into your own description.
3. Brag about yourself. Let’s face it, at this point no one else is going to do it for you. If you’re not excited about your candidacy, the employer certainly isn’t going to be. But be specific; don’t go on and on about assets that don’t apply to this job, rather list extraordinary accomplishments and talents that will lend themselves to this specific position.
4. Express why you want THIS job. If you’ve sent out a generic cover letter, they’ll sniff it out in a moment and into the paper shredder it will go. Why do you want this job and why do you want to work for this company? Be effusive and positive in the language you use. Presumably the company from which you are trying to attain employment thinks they’re a pretty good place to work, so make sure they know that this job is more desirable than all the other ones out there.
5. Keep it short. Remember, this is an introduction so don’t try to sell them all at once; your resume and interview are still to come. Your cover letter is designed to grab their attention and move you on to the next step. Paragraphs should be short, no more than three sentences. Like your resume, you want to keep the reader moving through the whole document.
With these things in mind, give your cover letter a face-lift and make your first impression a lasting one!