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Simple and Easy Tips on Writing Cover Letters that Work
If you are looking for a hot tip on writing cover letters, youíve come to the right spot. The following tips are sure to make any job applicantís cover letter stand out from the crowded inbox of the Hiring Manager and get the interview that you want.
How can I be so sure that these tips on writing cover letters will make such a difference? Itís easy. I just consider the competition that the average cover letter presents. Most cover letters are written by people that have never learned how to write a cover letter correctly. Most of them havenít even thought about it before. To them writing a cover letter is a pain in the neck that they have to go through every time that they apply for a job.
To get through it, they turn to some book or website looking for tips writing cover letters. From these sources they get a couple of ideas that they incorporate haphazardly into their cover letter --- or, if they are really pressed for time, they simply copy the letter and change a couple of details to send it as their own.
As a result, Hiring Managers get a lot of cover letters that starts with sentences like "Enclosed please find my resume for consideration for the position ofÖ. Blah blah blah" and similar boredom generators. Others pay a little better attention to the tips on writing a cover letter and omit the more obvious clichťs and musty sentences. But they still neglect to do the kind of "showing, telling and selling" that makes a reader want to schedule an interview.
Compared to these kinds of half-baked cover letters, the kind of letter that you generate after mastering the concepts and tips for writing cover letters will shine out like a diamond in a pile of coal.
Tips on Writing Cover Letters: The Basics
The first tip on writing a cover letter that works applies to what you should do before your fingers ever touch the keyboard. Namely, thoroughly research all the pertinent facts that will help you craft a cover letter that gets an interview.
In practice, this means getting just about all the information about the job and the company that you can find. First and most obviously, you will need to research to find the name and correct contact details of the person who can make the decision to bring you in for an interview or not.
Under no circumstances should you ever begin a letter with "To Whom It May Concern." If you should feel tempted to do so, simply remember how much attention you paid to the last piece of mail that came to your house addressed to ĎResident."
Other information that you should know is what industry the target job is in, what position the company holds in that industry. Itís also good to know what sort of changes the target company is going through and what specific challenges and opportunities they are looking at right now.
Why These Things Matter
If you think that this is too much work for a simple cover letter, just think to yourself about the different qualities that you would want to highlight about yourself if you were applying to a steady and mature business who wanted to maintain market share or if you were applying to a start up. Obviously, for the start up you would emphasize your flexibility and ability to adjust to changing circumstances. For a more mature industry, you might prefer to speak more of your dedication to the job you are applying for and your history of consistent service.
Chances are, it will be less work than you fear anyway. The internet is a great place to search for this information and once youíve read a couple of trade articles about your target industry and company, you should have a good idea what the situation is.
With the basic research out of the way, itís time to start crafting the letter itself. First and foremost, it has to look professional and adhere to the standards of business communication format. This can be easily determined, either by looking at a few samples or through online style guides that give tips on writing cover letters that look right.
The next question is the content of the cover letter. Itís extremely important that your cover letter start strong and grab the attention of the reader immediately. The best way to accomplish this is to appeal to their self-interest.
The Hiring Manager Is Looking for You!
If the Hiring Manager is looking through resumes and using his or her valuable time to search for candidates, he or she has a pressing business problem that can only be solved with a strategic hire. He or she wants nothing more than to find that hire so that he or she can move on to doing something else that is more interesting. As a result, the Hiring Manager is scanning the letters and emails seeking out the one that will contain the solution to their staffing problem.
By starting strong, your letter shouts "Hey! Here I am! Iím the solution to your problem! Right here!" A simple way to do that is to begin with an ALL-CAPS summary of the contents of the letter on the very first line. Something like "AVAILABLE NOW: EXPERIENCED SALES MANAGER" for instance would be a very welcome sight to someone seeking a sales manager and would get that letter pulled right to the very top of the pile.
The next step is to take that interest and hold it by continuing to appeal to the readerís self interest. I believe that the best way to do this is to show that you know exactly what the readerís problem is. That you understand the issue that is consuming the readerís mind with worry. If you can establish this, you electrify the reader "At last," they think, excitedly, "hereís someone that understand what Iím dealing with."
Once you show that you understand the problem, the reader is much more likely to believe you when you present them with a solution to that problem. And that is what the next couple of paragraphs should do. By highlighting your job experience, education, credentials, accomplishments and whatever other factors you believe are relevant you want to make the case that you are the best solution to the business problem.
A good tip for writing cover letters that you should remember is that of all the factors that you can list for why you are the best solution to the business problem, the most effective is going to by your experience and accomplishments. Experience and accomplishments of solving the same business problem show that you can do the job immediately for the new employer. This, in turn, makes you a sure bet.
Why Experience Is the Clincher
The company doesnít have to wonder if you will work out, or if you will waste their time and resources before letting you go. The company doesnít have to expend effort and money training you and getting you up to speed for the position before you can start contributing. Most importantly, the Hiring Manager knows that you will solve the business problem NOW instead of at some as-yet-undetermined future date.
There are several ways to put this experience forward. Straightforward sentences are always a clear way showcase your accomplishments. Tables and bullet-pointed lists are another eye-catching and attention-grabbing method of organizing your experience. Whichever method you choose, it helps to think of this part of the letter as if you are building a case for yourself, and forming an argument that you are perfectly suited to solve the Hiring Managerís most pressing business problem.
Once youíve established that you can solve the problem, itís a good idea to show that you want to. One of the most attractive and desirable qualities that a job candidate can have is that of enthusiasm. An enthusiastic worker, one who genuinely loves his or her job is naturally going to do a better job than the employee who only goes through the motions to receive the paycheck. So the next part of your letter should be to write what I call the "passion paragraph" in which you explain why you love the job so much and why you enjoy the challenges it presents.
The Hiring Manager Is Excited: Now What?
If youíve done the preceding parts of the letter well, the reader should be filled with eagerness to move forward with the interviewing and selection process by this point. So this is the time that you must act to direct this enthusiasm and eagerness into the direction that you want it to go. Use this sense of urgency to get the Hiring Manger to call you, right away, to set up an interview.
If he or she sets the letter down or moves on the next one in the email inbox, valuable momentum will be lost and it may get lost in the shuffle of the Managerís busy work schedule. So donít expect the reader to read your mind about what to do and where to reach you. Tell the reader something like "I canít wait to share my enthusiasm for this opportunity in person. Please call me at this number to set up an appointment."
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