I write individually crafted and professional resumes, which get picked up by algorithmic technology. The focus is on strong and persuasive content. I concentrate on qualitative and quantitative results, as these are what employers want. I use the latest branding and communication techniques to get clients in the ‘must interview’ pile.
The cover letter is the most important product I do for a client. Like the resume, it’s written in partnership. It’s the first thing a potential employer will read about you. It’s also far less structured than a resume, so there’s more opportunity to wander outside the lines of “normal”.
The function of a great cover letter is to get the reader interested enough to view your resume. A great cover letter will get the reader interested and provide a seamless entree to the resume.
Common Elements of a Poor Cover Letter
If your cover letter is more than a full page you might have a problem (unless stated in the application). Nobody wants to read that much just to see if you’re in the ballpark for the job. Too many cover letters are simply a narrative form of the resume, citing every job and every education bullet point.
If you spend two paragraphs talking about what a wonderful place Company X is to work, all you’ve accomplished is telling the reader he works at a nice company. The point is to sell yourself, not show how much you want to get hired.
Elements of a Great Cover Letter
Respect the reader’s time, and respect that you’re very early in the process, which means brevity is your friend. I like to try for 4 or 5 paragraphs. This is short enough that it tends to get read entirely (as opposed to merely skimmed).
In the very first sentence, tell them what job you want and why you’re an excellent fit. There is something refreshing about walking into a room and making your intentions known, and that’s exactly what a good cover letter does.
Highlight your experience. Briefly mention your academic qualifications and a little of your history to show them you’re in the right ballpark for the position. “I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. For the past three years, I’ve worked at Company Y, helping them build electrical infrastructure which was commended by the CEO for using the latest designs.”
We just want to give them enough of a glimpse to show we’re worth a second look.
I like to mention one polite and personal statement about the company. After all, you want them to know you’re interested in this company for a reason, not simply because you found it on a website.
A Call to Action is natural for sales and marketing folks, but a foreign concept to many in other fields. Tell them you’d like to meet to discuss further. It may seem obvious to you, but this shows that you’re a go-getter who is ready to further the process by prompting them for the next step.