To get your resume read, and to get that job interview, your cover letter must do the following:
Focus on the needs of the employer
- How you would solve her problems, contribute to her bottom line, etc. Employers have problems. That’s why they’re hiring! Your cover letter should say (although not in so many words): “I’m the answer to your problems.”
Display knowledge of the hiring company
- With the wealth of company information now available on the Internet and most public libraries, you should be able to drop one or two facts/names into your cover letter that show you’ve done your homework on the company and it’s specific products, needs, challenges, etc. Most job applicants simply ask for a job. If you can offer specific suggestions that will work right away for a company, they will call you.
Briefly state your best qualifications and achievements
- Don’t spend a lot of time rehashing your executive resume. But do include enough tidbits to generate interest in the mind of the reader. Because cover letters and resumes do get separated (I know this from experience!) it’s important to write a cover letter that will make readers want to pick up the phone and call you even if they’ve never seen your job-winning resume.
Show your enthusiasm about the job you want
- Avoid sounding like 90% of applicants, who say (not in so many words): “Give me a job where I can advance and make more money.” Instead, convey this sense: “I’m excited about the possibility of brining my skills and expertise to work for you.” This should be the main theme of your cover letter.
State that you will follow up to schedule an interview
- This is not considered rude by employers. Far from it. If you politely inform the reader that you’ll be calling within a few days to answer any questions and schedule an in-person interview, you set yourself apart from the crowd with your determination and confidence. Your persistence will pay off, eventually, in an interview for the job you want. And an interview is the goal of every cover letter.
Keep your letter short and focused
- This is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. Most cover letters, even those done by professional resume writers, ramble on in excruciating detail for one or even two full pages. Show respect for the limited time your reader has and limit yourself to four, five or six paragraphs at most.