Applying for a job is a lot like sex. The more interviews you get, the better your odds are. Your resume and cover letter are just your first line to get your foot in the door. If you wanna hang a sock from it, here are a few tips for crafting a a cover letter that will actually land you that interview:
1. Attach your cover letter to a great resume.
Decide what career you want, and create 5 resumes. Have one resume geared toward an entry level job and another aiming for management. Work your other 3 toward skills you have worked before. Mine are consulting, writing, and business analyses. Keep each resume down to 1 page maximum. Make them all easy to update. If you only have one job or no job history, think about what skills you used that apply to your dream career. A great cover letter is meant to introduce a great resume. Learn how to make a quick resume.
2. Write a three paragraph cover letter.
Save it in both .pdf and .doc formats (different companies like different formats), and name the file “FirstnameLastnameCoverLetter2013” so you have a quick reference of how old it is. Your cover letter and resume should always be current, even if you have a job. You never know when you may need it. Make it look professional by including the date at the top. The header should be left spaced, and there should be no indentation on the paragraphs. Start with “Dear Mr/Mrs etc” and find out the name of the person you’re sending the cover letter to. If you can’t find a name, use “To Whom It May Concern.” End your cover letter with:
First and Last Name
Professional Email Address”
There’s no need to put your physical address, as this should already be included on your resume, and few people respond with a physical letter. Be sure to put 2 spaces after “Sincerely,” and no spacing between your name, phone number, and email.
3. Your first paragraph should introduce yourself.
State your name. Make sure this paragraph is straight and to the point or the reader will lose interest. Don’t just list that you have experience in management. Tell them that you manage top teams and get results. Be specific about the results and gear them toward the company. It’s great that you always exceeded your production goals. What did that accomplish? More money for the company? Better quality products? This is your chance to say something great about yourself. Don’t hold back. Here’s mine to give you an idea:
My name is Brian Penny. Among other things, I’m a bank whistleblower, Anonymous collaborator, Occupy inspiration, yogi, and frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, where my pieces generate quite a bit of social media buzz. My articles on a variety of subjects have been syndicated throughout the web. I’m an expert in finance, ethics, technology, and much more.
4. Your second paragraph should be five sentences about your career goals and why you want to work for the company.
The only 2 things you need to adjust to personalize your cover letter for the position are the header “Dear Mr/Mrs/Dr _____” and the 2nd paragraph. Look up a couple facts about the company and find ways to align your goals with the goals of the company. If you’re applying for a marketing company and you’ve won sales awards, let them know both. It may sound like you’re telling them something they already know, but in doing so, you’re showing them that you did your research. This paragraph is vital in showing the company that you’re not just some desperate job seeker spamming every company you can find. It shows you put in your due diligence and selected them.
5. Your third paragraph should list you and the company as a team.
End the letter by saying that you look forward to learning more about the company (keep It generic so you don’t have to change it each time). You’re excited to work together. Focus on how all of your past accomplishments and future goals are in line with the company’s. Use “we” statements to give the sense that you already feel like you’re working with them. You’re more likely to get a response from a someone who sees you as a comrade, brother in arms, etc.
6. Never end with a question.
Don’t ask someones to call you back. Assume they will. Your last sentence should tell your potential employer that you’re patiently waiting for their response. Put the ball in their court and move on. By assuming the action, you’ll activate their natural response to be professional and courteous. Even if they decide not to hire you, they’re more likely to respond with a denial as opposed to letting you hang. If they don’t call you back, don’t worry. You’ll have applied at 100 places by then, and one of them is bound to call you back.
7. Always include a cover letter.
Go online and apply for 10-30 jobs a day. I’ve lived in the biggest cities and smallest towns from coast to coast. I’m well aware of what’s available, and there’s no reason you can’t find this many jobs to apply for. Always include a cover letter. Applications and resumes with a cover letter are more likely to be looked at by a human being.
Craigslist and Indeed offer easy resume applications for the majority of their job postings. Monster, Careerbuilder, etc often have individual applications that have to be filled out. Try to stick to ones that read your resume or LinkedIn to save time. The more resumes and applications you get in, the more possibilities there are of you getting a call back for an interview. Ensuring you have a cover letter with each application and resume greatly increases these odds.
8. Send your cover letter and resume to the right people.
Your cover letter and resume may be amazing, but if you can’t get it to the right people, who cares? Get email addresses of managers and people in Human Resources to send them your cover letter as an email body along with your resume as an attachment. This will skip a lot of work on your end filling things out.
Here’s how: Go to the website of the company you want to work for. Look for sections called “About Us” and “Contact Us.” These sections are where you’ll normally figure out the email format the company uses (i.e firstname.lastname@example.org). Once you have the email format, go to LinkedIn and find the person’s name who heads the department you’re applying for. Email that person directly to skip over many hurdles in the application process. If they refer you to an online application, you can use them as a referral to get your foot in the door quickly.
9. A business card is a mini-cover letter.
A business card works just like a cover letter and should be kept on you at all times. When you’re out and about, you can hand a business card to people you’re talking to. This puts your name and contact information in their hands, which is important. The best part about a business card is that it keeps your job search going even when you’re not searching. As long as people relate you to a positive experience and have your contact information, you’re doing the right thing.