Of all the things you need to get a job, in many cases the most debatable and argued over piece may be the cover letter. I have talked to many hiring managers who tell me that they don’t even read them and yet on the other hand they tell me if there isn’t one attached, they might not even look at the resume. Sound a bit crazy? Don’t answer that – let’s just keep moving.
Writing a successful cover letter is perhaps the most difficult part of the application process, and the most valuable. It can and will represent you to that employer until you are able to do so in person because this is the part of the process where your attempts to impress are often clues to your candidacy.
Obviously we could talk at length on the best way to construct a cover letter but in our case let’s focus on a particular type: a short cover email that you use to apply to online jobs. There are many ways in which this differs from a hard copy format and so for the moment don’t try and adapt your cover letters to a cover email, start fresh.
Remember, these hiring managers are in some cases seeing literally hundreds of emails so rule number one is keep it short.
I suggest breaking it into three small parts: the introductory section, the “why you think you’re right” section and the “thank you and contact me section.” When I say “section” I mean one or two sentences tops.
Here is a VERY basic sample:
Dear Mrs. Smith, (Always try and get a name to address your emails or letters to – Street Tip! Try using www.Hoovers.com to find out to whom you are writing to!)
I am submitting my resume for consideration for the position of beekeeper.
My skills as a professional beekeeper have won me various awards from Ohio to Florida and I have never been stung.
My resume is attached along with samples of honey. Please contact me at this email or at 555-1234 to set up a meeting.
OK so I wrote this with a hint of humor hoping that no one actually copies this for use, but instead sees this as an opportunity to be brief and informative. Lastly you want to slightly customize every single email cover to match the job posting. Say something specific that will separate you from the rest but keep it professional and pertinent to the job description.
If you are looking for certain jobs such as graphic designer, architect, copywriter or a job that specifically requests samples, then take your best work and make them into PDF’s as I showed you how to do in this story. If you have samples you probably know how best to create them for use but if needed look to peers or industry specific blogs for ways in which to put your samples in the best layout possible.
Now let’s get ready because it’s about that time. It’s time for you to reach out and impress someone.
Here’s your assignment for next week: pick out an interview outfit and visualize yourself sitting in a chair in that outfit impressing the heck out of someone who is looking for a great employee. Do this once a day until we meet again and you will be more ready than even you know.
Jason Veduccio is a hard-working entrepreneur following his dreams, and he wants you to dream, too. Drawing on his experiences working with companies on marketing, technology, hiring, and workplace issues, his regular column will demystify the job search process and identify strategies for moving up the corporate ladder. Founder of In1Concepts, Jason also knows the ins and outs of launching a new business. He welcomes your questions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.