Many people believe that a cover letter is no longer needed when submitting a resume. That is true for half of the hiring managers, but the other half report they expect a cover letter. Since you don’t know which side of the debate the hiring manager for the position you are applying for is on, cover all bases by including one. Plus, a cover letter is a great place to bring forward information you want the reader to notice. Here are a few tips:
► Address the cover letter to a specific person, not “To Whom It May Concern.” Ten or 15 years ago it was very difficult to find a hiring manager’s name. Today, with Google, LinkedIn, and company websites, you should be able to secure the specific individual’s name and job title with a quick search (and maybe one phone call).
► Make sure the cover letter is “employer-focused,” not “you-focused.” It’s not about what you want — it’s about how you can add value to the prospective employer.
► Show — don’t tell! Just like on the resume, don’t use words to describe yourself and your work — let your accomplishments do the talking. Instead of saying “results-oriented,” showcase the results you’ve achieved. Use specific dollar amounts, percentages, and other numbers to quantify your accomplishments.
► If you are in transition and early career experience is more relevant, the cover letter is the perfect place to highlight this experience that may be overlooked on your resume.
► You can also use the cover letter to highlight work experience that would substitute for education requested in a job posting — or highlight training and classes that have prepared you for the work being done.
► Don’t include your photo on your cover letter. It doesn’t belong on your resume either. But you absolutely need a great photo on your LinkedIn profile!
Stand out! Don’t just apply online for a position. Your cover letter and resume may never make it through the ATS software. If you apply online, follow-up with an e-note and resume attachment to the hiring manager. Or better yet, print the documents on quality paper and mail them or drop them off at the company for a very memorable first impression!