From our Vice President . . .
Last month, our President outlined Seven Resume Secrets and promised in future columns we would also provide helpful information on the cover letter and references. Today, I’ll address the cover letter.
As an executive search firm, we see a lot of cover letters and often they don’t set the candidate apart nor relate to the specific position for which they are applying. The cover letter is your calling card to potential new employers, so ensure it portrays you the way you desire and whets their appetite to learn more about your accomplishments.
Here are some tips to help your cover letter stand out:
- Grab their attention by addressing the recipient by name if possible. This indicates that you have done your research and you see them as a person, not just a hiring manager.
- In the first paragraph, state the position you are interested in and how you learned about it.
- Determine what story you want to tell about yourself – something that highlights why you are particularly suited for this position – and keep it succinct.
- Capture their interest by highlighting one or two special achievements that are directly related to this position.
- Use words that show that things happened when you were involved. Examples include: led, organized, designed, developed, created, launched, increased, overhauled, restructured, trained, negotiated, analyzed, identified, composed, ensured, attained, completed, exceeded.
- State why you are interested in working at this institution in this position.
- Pay careful attention to the most important aspects of the position and ensure that you link your proficiency in those areas.
- Share your connection to the mission of the organization.
- Keep it short and to the point. There is no need to repeat what is in your resume.
- Tell employers what you have achieved, not what you think you are capable of. Martin Yate puts it this way, “People are hired on their credentials, not potential.”
Also keep these things in mind:
- One page is preferred.
- Ensure that your punctuation and grammar are correct and the margins are standard.
- Use the same font style and size for both your cover letter and resume.
- A clean header which is consistent on both your cover letter and resume will make your items easier to identify on a busy desk or shared printer.
As with anything you are submitting professionally, ask a friend, family member, or colleague to review your materials with fresh eyes to ensure it is easily understood and tells the story you want it to tell.
Wishing you success!