6 Cover Letter Tips for High-Stress, High-Tech Times – Show Respect for the Hiring Folks!

Hiring folks—like the rest of us—are often faced with information overload. With home phones, cell phones, business phones, e-mail, U.S.

mail, voice mail, junk mail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of other communication vehicles, it is challenging to sift through the “noise” and “traffic” to hone in and focus on one candidate. This is often why even the most qualified candidates may fall through the cracks!

Cover Letter:  6 Tips

Make sure your resume is strong, with the cover letter being its short and sweet introduction. Most importantly, show respect for the hiring person’s time! Here are 6 tips:

  1. Address your cover letter to a specific person if possible. This shows your due diligence. You can research contacts online at the company’s websites. If you know someone inside that company, ask them for help in getting a name. Or call the company; say you have a question about the position/process. Ask for a name. Sometimes, you can’t find out. Don’t say “To Whom It May Concern”—that dates you as out of touch. Instead, use “Dear Hiring Manager” as your greeting.
  2. Tell recruiters what they need to know. You normally leave salary out of a letter. Writing to recruiters is an exception!! Include salary history or requirements, or risk being disqualified. You can give a comfortable range for salary history, such as “Over the past nine years, I have earned between $46,000 and $59,000. However, I am open to any reasonable offer consistent with my ability to produce results aligned with your performance expectations.” If you are asked for salary requirements, use the same strategy: “I realize that the salary range for a Vendor Contract Specialist in the Minneapolis area averages between $37,000 and $45,000. Given my experience and ability to hit the ground running with contributions to ABC Company, I would hope to come in at the upper end of this scale.” Recruiters really need to know, because their clients are companies who have specific parameters regarding salary.
  3. Drop names. If you were referred by someone connected with the employer, make sure you reference that in the very first sentence of your cover letter. “Barry Leighton remarked that I’m a perfect fit for the inside sales position you currently have open…” This powerful sentence will immediately grab the reader’s attention! Employers like to hire people they know. Your ability to gain credibility is enhanced, because the hiring person knows that you’ve been pre-screened by the person who referred you to the job.
  4. Keep the process simple. If you are sending your resume electronically, put the cover letter right in the email. Reference that your resume is attached and in what format (Word, PDF etc.). If you’d rather make the cover letter the first page of your resume file, that’s okay. However, general etiquette frowns upon attaching multiple files. This is disrespectful of the hiring person’s time; now they have to open TWO (or more) files for just one candidate. Not a happy camper!
  5. Do not rehash your resume. If your resume is a well-written marketing document (clear focus of what you want, followed by a branded value proposition, and backed by relevant success stories/qualifications), don’t waste the hiring person’s time by repeating this information. Your goal here is to entice them to read the resume! Stick to what you want and why you’re a fit. Don’t preach the obvious. Hiring folks know that a salesperson brings in revenue. They know that a teacher wants students to learn. They know that a quality control person strives for efficiencies and safety. Stick to the point, which is “I’m applying for ___, and I’m a great fit; please read my resume to know more.”
  6. State your respect. “I respect your time” are four very powerful words in a cover letter, for obvious reasons. You have just succinctly said that you realize this person has many demands, and you want to make his/her connection with you as pleasant as possible. Note the following example:

Cover Letter:  Sample

June 11, 2010

Ms. Tamara Jenkins
ABC Global
590 Lilac Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Dear Ms. Jenkins:

I’m excited about ABC Global’s opening for District Manager, and my resume highlighting relevant qualifications accompanies this letter. I am positive that I could perform well in this role, and could contribute to ABC’s continued success.

I respect your time, and can assure you that I have the years of experience, credentials and other relevant success stories aligned with your stated criteria for the District Manager position.

Thank you for your consideration; I look forward to the next step!


Greg Brownston

Note: Resume is attached in Word and PDF formats

Cover Letter:  More Tips

For more cover letter tips and advice, see…

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