If you want to write a cover letter that will entice employers to consider you, there are several precautions to take. Otherwise, you risk sending a letter that employers won’t want to read.
In applying for a good job, you must write a cover letter. The trick is to use the right methods.
You can always respond to posted job listings. But it’s best to tap the hidden job market or to reach out to employers for which you’d like to work and create an opening.
A company will often make room to hire outstanding people. That was my favorite tactic years ago prior to my consulting practice. I looked for needs to fill so I could introduce myself.
For instance, by researching the company, you can anticipate the issues over which the company might be struggling.
Another method is to congratulate the company for an achievement reported in the news media.
In any event, a strategic cover letter will increase your chances over your competition.
Here are seven strategies:
1. Assess your talents
“Know thyself,” a great admonition by Socrates. So begin by doing a personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses.
You must fully understand the competencies you will provide to employers. From your list of talents, develop a strong elevator pitch.
2. Follow instructions
If you’re applying for a published opening, read the directions and follow them explicitly. If the employer does not mention a cover letter is required, write one anyway. This will help you to stand out.
3. Tailor your approach
Even though you’ve assessed your strengths and weaknesses, customize each letter. Align your strengths to the job requirements by using the same keywords mentioned in the posting.
… a strategic cover letter will increase your chances over your competition.
4. Personalize your letter
Demonstrate your resourcefulness. Find out who the hiring person is. Don’t send a “To whom it may concern” salutation. Learn all you can.
Go to the organization’s Web site or to LinkedIn to search for the department’s information. Google the job title or the department.
If all else fails, consider a novel approach: For example, I’ve made cold calls to desirable employers and persuaded the receptionist to give me information I needed to write a letter.
5. Be creative for a favorable first impression
Your opening line is important. Don’t start with a boring, mundane statement such as “Please find enclosed” or “Attached is my resume for…”
Your best two options:
— Use a value proposition from your elevator pitch but be sure it relates to the organization’s requirements.
— Begin with a recommendation-quote that mentions your capabilities that relate to the opening for which you’re applying.
— If you know one of the organization’s employees who has a good reputation, consider using a name-dropping approach.
6. Explain your motive for applying and why you’re a good fit
Especially if you’re successful in touting your qualifications, the hiring manager will want to know why you want the job. So research the company well.
Use Google Alerts, research press releases and do a thorough search-engine search to learn as much as you can.
In the second paragraph: Explain why you want the job and market yourself on why you’d make a great employee (without being ostentatious).
Take the high road. Explain with an introductory phrase, such as “You might wish to consider…” Then display an attitude of service and insert a bulleted list of your talents.
7. Close well
The third paragraph should include an attitude of gratitude. A thank you for their consideration is important.
Repeat your strong interest and insert a statement that will prevent buyer’s remorse. Reassure them you’re a strong candidate with a collegial, teamwork attitude.
Indicate what you’ll do next to follow up. Make sure you follow-through.
After you’re granted a meeting, run to the nearest post office to mail a thank you letter – using the same philosophy – so your letter arrives the next business day.
From the Coach’s Corner, here related strategies:
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