I spend so much time writing and talking about job search strategies and resume writing in general that I often forget to discuss the topic of writing a cover letter that generates results. Cover letters are just as important a document as your resume and require just as much time and strategy.
Writing the perfect cover letter is no easy task and is not something that should be completed in a rush. You should never have just one stand-alone cover letter for every position you apply to. The cover letter is your opportunity to shine and show the company just how much you have to offer outside of the skills, accomplishments and qualifications that are outlined in your resume. This is your chance to demonstrate through story-telling, research and critical job target deconstructions, exactly how you can meet the company’s needs and solve their problem. This all important document should be able to work consecutively with your resume, but also be able to stand alone and still garner the results you are looking for.
There are no hard and fast rules on cover letter development but the goal should always be the same as with your resume – you want to highlight your added value and accomplishments – and get the hiring manager to want to meet you. This will not be achieved if you don’t take the time to customize your cover letter for each and every position you are applying for. To get the results you are looking for, you need to research your target market, understand your target position and target company and sell yourself accordingly.
To accomplish this, a strategy and a plan are needed. It is essential that you take some time to truly compare your strongest skills and qualifications with the job position requirements and the company values and mission statements. Your goal should be to flatter the hiring manager and the company you are applying to by presenting a persuasive sales pitch that identifies and extracts your value proposition, your key buying motivators and supporting qualifications. It is important to note here that you do not want to simply repeat exactly what is on your resume – rather, you want to add to your resume and provide a rich and fulfilling story of career and professional accomplishments.
In the introduction (or opening) you want to lead-in to the rest of your cover letter and grab your reader’s attention from the start by speaking directly to the company and briefly discussing how you can fill their needs. The body of your cover letter is when you get into the meat-and-bones of how your skills and qualifications transfer into this role through carefully selected achievement and accomplishment stories. The closing of your cover letter is when you will again express interest in the company by highlighting how your personality blends well with the company culture and values. You also want to end with a call to action, either by requesting an interview to discuss in more detail how you can fulfill the company needs or by stating that you will follow up directly.
By completing some company research ahead of time you can find a way to demonstrate in your cover letter exactly how your personality and individuality blend well with the company culture and values. With the work you do to complete a job target deconstruction you will be able to highlight how your strongest qualifications match the job description and connect (or transfer) to the competencies of the job you hope to land.
At the end of the day, you want to make sure that your cover letter does not simply repeat your resume but rather, complements the resume and focuses on the needs of the hiring manager and the company. Take the time necessary to accomplish these steps and you will be on your way to getting results and being called for interviews!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Skye at firstname.lastname@example.org.