Your cover letter is the first document the reader/hiring manager will see. This tells them about you using a unique combination of creative language, careful planning and strategy, and effective execution. You must always include a cover letter with your résumé, even if responding to an online ad. Some hiring managers have told me they will not respond to an applicant who hasn’t included a cover letter.
That being said, I’ve included some dos and don’ts for writing cover letters that will help eliminate the frustration of writing an effective and interesting cover letter.
Each Cover Letter should have 10 Key Components:
-Reference Line (i.e. states the title of the position for which you are applying and may also include a reference code or job number if applicable)
-Content/Body of Letter
-Closing Paragraph/Call to Action
Your Cover Letter must Sell You, Market You and Brand You. What makes you unique? Demonstrate how your unique skills/qualifications relate to that particular company’s needs. Think of your résumé/cover letter package as direct mail advertising, grabbing the reader’s attention and prompting the person to act.
Understand Your Audience. Tone, content and format will change based on what you know about the reader. A recruiter or company? Read the job posting carefully and see how your qualifications best match what the employer is seeking.
Targeted Letters Work Best. What does the company see as most important? Read the job posting and find the company’s requirements. You can then create bullet points or short paragraphs that tie your experiences to the company’s specific needs.
The Cover Letter Must Match the Résumé. It should complement the résumé without repeating the every word on it. Avoid verbatim. The header should match the one of the cover letter.
Watch for Grammar, Punctuation, and Formatting Errors. Remain diligent about word usage mistakes, and spelling and grammar errors. Make sure any copy you give an employer is wrinkle free and clean. Watch your font size and type. Resist going overboard with bold, italics and underlining.
Note: Professional Résumé Services and Healthcare IT Central (HITC) have teamed up to provide powerful resumes for powerful Healthcare IT executives, at exclusive prices only available to HITC members. If you are not getting calls, it’s most likely your résumé.