Not getting noticed? Maybe it’s your cover letter…
It can be easy to forget the importance of a cover letter when you’re applying for jobs. The resume is, of course, critically important in letting the potential employer know your job history, as well as education, training and special skills and any recognition you’ve gained throughout your career.
But without a top notch cover letter, how is your next boss going to know that you’re a great fit for the company? A cover letter accomplishes many things that a resume can’t. For example, let’s say you’re applying for a job in healthcare, or more specifically, radiography. You may not have relevant job experience in that particular field, but perhaps you’ve spent the last year taking radiography courses and are perfectly qualified for an entry level position. The cover letter is the perfect place where you can explain yourself and what transferable skills you’ve developed over the years that will help you in your new career.
To help you stand out in today’s tough job market, below are four (4) must-have tips to help you write a stellar cover letter:
Punch your results and what you can do for them.
Don’t waste the reader’s time talking about how bad you need a job. What you need to be doing is telling them why they should want you. What will you bring to the table that will benefit their company? The best way to do this is by highlighting achievements from past jobs or educational experiences. If you were responsible for a 30% sales increase in your last job or helped to rebrand a company’s marketing presence by partnering with a youth group, those are the kinds of facts to include in your cover letter.
Be personable and likable.
Obviously, with the limited space of a cover letter you don’t have much room for fluff, but it’s important to add some personality. Not only will it endear you to the reader, it increases the chance that he/she will remember you. For example, if you’re from another country you could briefly describe your journey to America. Or, if you have a personal story of how the company to which you’re applying has affected your life in a positive way, you could mention this. Don’t be too cute though. When in doubt, err on the side of professionalism and don’t be too informal.
3. Talk up your transferable skills.
A transferable skill is a skill you learn to complete one task but which can be used for many other tasks. For example, if you successfully managed people, projects or budgets in a previous position, you can transfer those skills to your next position.
Another example of a transferable skill is customer service. In a previous job you may have been excellent at managing internal stakeholders, vendors or or customers. This kind of experience will not only transfer to different industries and job roles, but will make you a valuable asset to any organization.
4. Let your future employer know where you’re coming from and where you’re headed.
Briefly include biographical information in your cover letter. This is usually for the purpose of clarifying why your past makes you a perfect fit for the new job. You can also explain why there are any gaps in your employment history. For example, if you didn’t work from 2006 to 2007 because you were taking time off for a research project, you should explain that in the cover letter. It’s also helpful to include why you’re passionate about the new company, as well as the position.
It takes some extra effort to create a cover letter that sizzles and grabs the attendtion of a hiring manager – but a great cover letter can help you stand out from your competition. And in today’s tough job market, that’s exactly what you need!
Written as a Guest Post by Samantha Peters, who is an avid blogger that frequently writes about career and job search related topics from San Diego, California. Follow Samantha on Twitter at twitter.com/#!/Sam_Peters1001