Does your cover letter have the “wow” factor it needs to help you land a great job? If you are uncertain about the impact of your current cover letter or you have never crafted one, now is the time to develop a document that will get you results. Your career depends on it.
Here are the elements of an outstanding cover letter.
Addressed to the right person
Before you use “To Whom it May Concern” as the addressee of your letter, stop and consider how impersonal this is. In fact, it’s considered by many to be lazy. There are numerous ways to find out who you should be receiving the cover letter. For example, check out the company website and get the name of the human resource manager, or go to LinkedIn and get the name of the lead recruiter. If those sources don’t produce a name, pick up the phone and ask the receptionist to whom you should address the letter to at the company. This little extra step can help your cover letter to get into the right hands.
A powerful opening paragraph
Grab the attention of the reader with a good opening statement that introduces you and your value to the company. Don’t be generic because HR literally reads hundreds of cover letters every week. Try to stand out and say something interesting and relevant to the job you are applying for. Make the reader want to learn more about you. When you are trying to be interesting, get to the point quickly. You don’t want to take a lot of sentences to get to the point.
Highlights your achievements
Your cover letter also needs to provide more context and expand on your top career achievements. The points you are highlighting from your resume should be relevant to the job posting. This customization will take time on your end, but the payoff will come when you receive an interview and eventually get the job. When you are highlighting your achievements, make it simple and to the point. Use white space around this list to make it easy on the eyes and give the recruiter some room to make notes. Don’t be afraid to boast a little bit about yourself!
Effective call to action
The last and perhaps one of the most important elements that your cover letter needs is a strong call to action at the very end. This essentially asks the recruiter to contact you and provides the times you are available and how to reach you. Include your contact information and wrap things up by thanking the reader for their time.