Ten Top Cover Letter Tips

Cover letters are critical to your success. They introduce you and are an indicator of your intellect, selling and business savvy and confidence, as well as your professional experience and skills.

Those who are familiar with David Letterman know he made a name for himself with his Top Ten Lists.  I’ve compiled my own Top Ten List for Cover Letters.

While Letterman’s lists are humorous, my list is absolutely serious! What’s more serious than making the right impression from the start with employers, to get your foot in the door in a tough economy?

Cover Letters: Top Ten List

  1. Always try to weave networking in. Mention a referral source whenever possible (I know that sometimes it’s not; but here’s where detective work beforehand makes a difference). For example, “Mary Doe mentioned you were looking for new talent for your call-center operations.”
  2. After mentioning your referral source, mention a benefit: “My 11-year background as a Call-Center Operator has enabled me to increase call volumes 14% with a 6% increase in survey customer satisfaction rankings for my current employer”within a 6-month period!”
  3. Very briefly summarize the extent of your experience, whether number of years of experience, relevant titles you have held, or range of qualifications in a certain area.
  4. Always include a list of 3-5 quantifiable, measurable accomplishments! Use percentages, numbers and dollars whenever possible. Have these speak to the employer’s buying motivators, i.e. controlling/cutting costs, streamlining efficiencies, improving relations, etc. Cut to the chase of what THEY need, and show specific and relevant success stories.
  5. Make these accomplishments stand out with bullets.
  6. Do not restate verbatim what’s already in your résumé. Instead, entice them to read that résumé. Dangle the carrot from the first paragraph, and remember that the whole letter is a carrot!
  7. Avoid the tired language of “Enclosed, please find a copy of my résumé.” Instead, how about something like, “You’ll note in this letter my track record of bottom-line contributions (27% revenue growth in 6 months) to my current employer. I can do it for you too!”
  8. Shun arrogant, fancy language. Read your letter out loud. If you trip over any words at all that are not natural to your way of speaking, rewrite the letter with simpler language.
  9. If you are pasting the letter into an e-mail, make the letter as short as possible. Use bullets to set off accomplishments. Recruiters and hiring managers tire of scrolling through lengthy e-mails! Don’t make their job tough!
  10. If you’re sending your letter as an e-mail attachment, combine the letter with the résumé into the same document attachment. This saves the recruiter or hiring manager from having to open and save two attachments. In the text of the email, mention “For your convenience, I have included a duplicate copy of this letter as part of my attached résumé file.”

Remember that you will be sending your résumé and cover letters in response to many different situations, and one letter can’t fit all possible scenarios. You will need to tailor your cover letters to specific job opportunities and audiences. Carefully scan the job postings, research the company, talk to people in-the-know if you can. Then follow the above with your target job and audience in mind. I hope this Top Ten List helps put you at the Top Ten List of candidates!

Cover Letters: More Tips

More Cover Letter tips . . .

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