The New Rules on How to Write a Cover Letter
Human resources and hiring experts offer tips and tricks that will allow your cover letter lead to your next great job.
Specify how you found the person that you are emailing
“Most people have an instinctive response like, ‘How did they get my name?’ when receiving an unsolicited, yet personalized inquiry. To be sure your email is received positively, indicate early on in the cover letter email how you came to discover the person in order to put the receiving party at immediate ease to continue reading. Whether it was research on LinkedIn or your former co-worker that led you to reach out to this person or you have mutual connections, informing the recipient of how your email landed in their inbox makes the person feel better.”—Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes.Find out the one secret you need to know to write a perfect cover letter.
Write a cover letter even if they don’t want one
“Some organizations may specifically ask that you not submit a cover letter, or an applicant tracking system may not accept a cover letter as an additional upload. In those two instances, I still recommend writing a cover letter—even if you are the only one who ever sees it. Taking the time to complete this letter allows you to craft a powerful message which can help you define why you are perfect for a job. This will be essential information to articulate well during a job interview. It’s one of the best preparation measures you can make.”—Melina Gillies, HR Specialist at SalesUp! Business Coaching. Here are the 10 best careers to pursue right now.
Help the reader connect the dots
“Your cover letter needs to succinctly explain why the reader should take action and call you for an interview or forward you to the right person to bring you in for a discussion. Use bullets, and no more than three to five, to outline how you are a fit for the prospective position.”—Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes
“The opening statement needs to immediately show the reader that a job candidate has done research on the company. Make the hiring manager want to keep reading. A good cover letter talks about the company and should also include a hypothesis for why the company is seeking a new candidate. The company obviously has a need and it’s to the candidate’s benefit to figure out what the issues are (or make the best guess) and then demonstrate, with his or her own examples, why she is worth speaking to in an interview.”—Jeff Magnuson, Jeff Magnuson Consulting
“Most people don’t realize that their cover letter can be used as an effective way of branding themselves. In fact, most people never really think about their personal brand at all when applying for work. However, if you have a super-impressive achievement that separates yourself from all the other candidates, you can consider using your cover letter to highlight this noteworthy aspect of yourself. Brand yourself as ‘that guy who managed to land an internship at Google’ or ‘that genius who went to Harvard.’”—Steve Wang, Resume Writing Advice blogger. Next, find out the things HR won’t tell you about your resume.