Recently we shared 5 ways to revamp your Resume to help you get your Resume ready for the job you want. Today we are going to take a closer look at the Cover Letter you send with your Resume.
The importance of the Cover Letter is often over-looked when putting together a job application. We may spend hours, days, even weeks crafting the perfect Resume, only to throw a Cover Letter together at the last minute. But if you think about it, if the Resume is designed to get you the job, or at least an interview, the Cover Letter is equally as important, because its job, is to get your Resume read. The other mistake that is commonly made when it comes to the Cover Letter is not tailoring it for each job you are applying for. You can create a template for your Cover Letter and I recommend that, but each new job application should be accompanied by a Cover Letter that is specific to the job you are applying for. You may have one Resume, or a few versions for different categories of jobs, but you must have a different Cover Letter for each job.
If you consider the person doing the hiring and the number of applications they may have before them for a job, to get yours read, your Cover Letter needs to answer one question for the reader; why should I hire this person? To help you write a Cover Letter that answers that question, you need to consider what your USP is. USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, is an advertising term that refers to the one thing that makes a product/service different from all others. To show an employer how you are different from all of the other applicants they have before them, you can create your own personal USP. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you do this. As you answer these, consider your skills, experience, personal attributes and qualifications. Once you answer the questions, try to bring your answers together in a powerful statement; your elevator pitch.
When it comes to the structure of your Cover Letter, you will find that there are a lot of different examples out there to inspire you. Below is a basic structure that works and is a great place to start.
Start off professionally by addressing your letter properly and make sure you have all the details correct, especially spelling of names. Include;
- Your Address
- Mr. /Ms. (Their name)
- Company Name
- Their Address
- Dear Mr./Ms. (Their name)
State your intention clearly by telling the reader what job you are applying for in the first sentence. This first paragraph should be short and to the point and simply include;
- Intention (your reason for writing) and which role you are applying for.
- If appropriate refer to anyone you are connected with in relation to the application (for e.g., “I recently assisted your lead Wedding Planner Lesley Brookes and she encouraged me to apply for this position, as she believes I have the skills you are looking for.”).
- Use your Elevator Pitch to spell out clearly why you have applied for the position. Focus on inspiring the reader.
This section is where you bring out your ‘big guns’. The answers to your USP questions will help you here too. In the first half of this paragraph, tell the employer why are you the person they need and ‘show them’, by sharing some brief information about your most relevant and recent skills and experience. You may also like to list 2-3 significant and again relevant achievements. The second half of the paragraph should support and back up the information in the firt half. Give evidence and refer to specific roles and responsibilities, always keeping in mind what the reader is looking for. If you are particularly proud of your typing speed, but this is not something that would significantly impact on your ability to do the job you are applying for, its not relevant.
The final sentence of this paragraph should refer back to the job title and the company as a way of reiterating for the reader that you are the person they are looking for.
Tip: Sell yourself, but don’t bore the reader by letting this paragraph get too long. Keep your writing concise and to the point. Use positive language and seek to impress without laying it on ‘too thick’.
This section should be short and simply tell the employer that your Resume is attached. You can also add in a sentence to say that you are looking forward to an interview. You should also thank the reader for taking the time to review your application. You can then sign off your application in a professiona manner and include a list under your sign-off of any attachments.