After spending so much time constructing the perfect resume you may have forgotten all about the important role your cover letter plays in the process. Don’t let it be an afterthought that you tack on just because you have to. A cover letter and resume that complement one another can deliver a one two punch and make your efforts that much more effective.
First, you should never address your cover letter with a generic greeting. Using To Whom it May Concern, Dear Sir or Madam, or Re: Job Posting XYZ are the equivalent of saying I couldn’t be bothered with taking the time to find out who to send this to. Take five minutes, call the company and find out who specifically you should send your resume to. If the answer is just send it to personnel, ask if there is anyone in particular you should put it to the attention of. If they still don’t give you a name you might be stuck. If you know anyone that works at the company you could ask them for a name or check your LinkedIn connections to see if you are connected to anyone at that company who might have a better idea. Having your resume go to a specific person instead of a department increases the likelihood that your resume will avoid the black hole.
Second, start your resume with a hook. Again, stay away from the generic openers such as, I am writing in response to, or Please consider me for. You want to immediately grab your reader’s attention and get them to continue reading through your cover letter and onto your resume. Start off by telling them what it is you can do for them, how you will bring value to the position, and why you are the best candidate. It’s all about what you can bring to the company not what you want from them so anything that sounds self-seeking.
Third, don’t simply repeat the information that can be found on your resume. Bring something new to the cover letter that will intrigue your reader and promote your value. Maybe you have some significant accomplishments from earlier in your career that didn’t make it onto the resume. Go ahead and highlight those on your cover letter. Or if you have some fresh new ideas as to what you would bring to the position you can detail those as well. Do your research and address company specifics in your cover letter, your reader will be impressed. If you have any special circumstances such as a career transition, desire to relocate, or are re-entering the workforce your cover letter is a good place to address those things.
By spending a little extra time on your cover letter you can increase the overall impact of your resume. Your efforts will be worth it and can set you apart from the candidates that didn’t take them time.
Megan Koehler is a Certified Advanced Resume Writer and personal branding strategist at ContempoResume. She enjoys working with professionals at all levels to identify and develop their unique value into a customized and powerful resume. Call 800-764-8709 for all your resume needs.