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Why Human Resource Cover Letters Are Such a Challenge
When writing a human resource cover letter the most important piece of advice to keep in mind is that the reader of that letter will be an expert in the field of what it takes to get a job. After all, human resources employees are the first point of contact for 99 percent of hires that a company makes. For that reason, you can be sure that they have seen just about everything a candidate can do, good or bad, on the job hunt.
Take looking at resumes, for instance. Managers and supervisors look at a lot of resumes while sorting through the candidates that will be considered for interviews in their department. In big departments, this can be literally hundreds of resumes a year.
But the human resources department sees all the resumes that come in, to every department. So you can be that they have developed very sharp skills at checking out the resume for the relevant information as quickly as possible and for making snap judgments about whether to hire a candidate or not.
The same goes for cover letters. So when you send a human resource cover letter it might be the twentieth cover letter that the human resource manager looks at that day. As a result, you aren't going to get the benefit of the doubt. As the Human Resource manager picks up that human resource cover letter, he or she will start scanning it quickly to see the vital elements that he or she needs to evaluate your candidacy for the position.
A Human Resource Cover Letter Only Gets One Look
If your human resource cover letter does not contain those elements, don't expect the human resource manager to set it aside to read later, or to sit down and go over the letter more slowly and carefully. If your cover letter doesn't deliver, immediately, then it will get tossed into the trash can immediately.
To make it even tougher, unlike other job openings, which the human resources managers will defer to the judgment of other department managers, in HR, the HR manager knows exactly what is needed and won't waste time with people that can't provide it. Here's an example. If someone is applying for an engineering or technical or professional position in a company, the HR manager may be unsure about where the candidate is qualified for the job. After all, the HR manager is not an engineer, a technician or accountant.
So they may be willing to pass candidates onto department managers that they are unsure of. If you are applying for the job, this is a lucky break for you. Once you get the interview, it's possible that you will impress the interviewer enough to get the job that the HR manager nearly threw away your cover letter for.
However, a human resources cover letter can count on no such lucky break. If you don't have the human resources experience that the HR manager is looking for he or she will know it at first glance.
The combination of these factors gives a strong incentive to create the very best Human Resources cover letter possible for yourself. Luckily, this is a simple task to accomplish once you have absorbed a few basic principles.
Do Your Research
First, before you even start to write your human resource cover letter you should do as much research as possible about the company, the position and the Hiring Manager that will be receiving your human resource cover letter. Knowing what sort of duties the job entails allows you to tailor your cover letter to fit the requirements of the job. Additionally, knowing what kind of work the company does and as much as possible about their products, services, strategy and activities will also be very helpful to you.
As you do the research, try to answer for yourself why the Human Resources department is hiring another employee. What is the business problem that they are trying to solve? Are they expanding, so need employees with recruiting and hiring skill sets? Or are they more interested in someone that can develop better policies and procedures in a more mature company?
Good sources for information on these topics can be found by searching the Internet, business publications, and by talking to people in your social network. It's unlikely that you're going to find a definite answer, but doing research along these lines can't help but make you more confident as you write your letter. Additionally, considering how few human resource cover letter writers go to the trouble of taking this action, this simple step will already give you a nearly unfair advantage over your competition.
As for the person that will receive your letter, the main piece of information you need to find out about them is their name and how to spell it correctly. It may take you a little bit of research on the internet and picking up the phone, but if you can at all avoid sending off a human resources cover letter addressed to "To Whom It May Concern" then it is worth the effort.
Now you've got an idea of where the letter needs to go and what the company is looking for you are ready to write the human resources cover letter. Just to get the attention of the human resources manager right off the bat, it's a good idea to start with a clearly stated, ALL CAPITALIZED summary headline of what you are and what you offer.
Make Your Strongest Case
"EXPERIENCED HR MANAGER AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY," for instance, answers the reader's question of "why should I read this?" and compels them to keep going.
Now, your human resource cover letter needs to prove that you are the best possible solution to the business problem that you identified the company as being most interested in solving. Your first paragraph should make the case that you can come in start solving that problem for the company on your first day on the job, maybe before you even take your first coffee break.
How do you prove this? You use your education, your certification, your attributes, and your interests as proof of your problem solving skill. Most of all, however, you use your experience. The most important thing for you to establish in this opening paragraph is that you have encountered a problem similar to that faced by the company in your career. What's more, you solved that problem, many, many times.
Proving this beyond the shadow of a doubt is very reassuring to an employer. If they believe that you are currently already doing the thing that they need done for themselves, then they know that you can do it for them with the minimum of training and adjustment. You are a sure bet, and companies do not like to take risks with the time and effort and money that goes into a hire.
Show Some Passion
Once you've established your experience as a problem solver, the next step is to show that you are enthusiastic about solving that problem. No employer wants an employee that only shows up to collect a paycheck. Those employees tend to be unmotivated and not reliable to stick with the company for any extended period. So after your experience paragraph, you need to write what I call a "passion paragraph."
This paragraph mentions how much you enjoy the challenge of solving the problems that you've mentioned, and maybe expresses your vision of your career. Naturally, you want for this vision to be something that is compatible with the target company.
The last step is to tell the reader what to do in order to make the next step towards you getting the job happen. In most instances this is pick up the telephone and call you up to set up an appointment. If that's the case, then come on and ask the reader to do that. This is a good place to put any contact details that are relevant, like you will be out of town the next week, or that you prefer to be called on your cellphone.
Now your human resources cover letter is finished.
Run a spellcheck and grammar check on it, then let it sit for a couple of hours. After you've been writing something for a while, it is hard to edit it with fresh eyes.
After you've gone away a little while come back and print the letter up. Read it out loud. Chances are, you'll find areas where it sounds a little unnatural or where you aren't as clear as you would like. This is your chance to fix those and make the letter as perfect as possible.
When that's done, you're ready to print it up or to email it to your targeted company. Though it's not possible to predict what will happen to your job search, you should at least know that your human resources cover letter is better than just about any of the competing letters that the HR manager will look at besides yours.
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