Cover Letters ♦ from $45
A well-written cover letter and job-winning résumé is an excellent investment. The 700 or so words in a one-page letter and two-page résumé are worth thousands of dollars. A job worth $30,000 starting salary and an annual two percent increase provides more than $150,000 after five years. The cover letter and résumé that helped you get the job are worth something like $215 a word.
Stand out…with a World Class Résumé!
A strong cover letter will always be addressed to a specific person.
Professional Résumés ♦ CV’s ♦ LAMI Regular Low Prices
- Cover Letters – from $45
- Résumés – from $85
- CV’s – from $185
- List of References – from $40
- Letters of Reference/Recommendations – from $45
- (Translations – from $95 each)
Almost every postion involves providing a cover letter and résumé. There are two reasons for this. One is legal: Federal and provincial human rights legislation requires that companies maintain files of applicants so that they can demonstate that their hiring decisions were made in accordance with established regulations.
The other reason is practical: Even if you are the niece or nephew of the company’s vice pesident, it is unlikely that members of a selection committee would be familiar with your education and work history; still less so if you were the friend of the computer programmer who tells you of an opening in the marketing division.
The purpose of a cover letter and résumé is to get you an interview.
A cover letter or covering letter or motivation letter or motivational letter or letter of motivation is a letter of introduction attached to, or accompanying another document such as a résumé or curriculum vitae.
Job seekers frequently send a cover letter along with their CV or employment application as a way of introducing themselves to potential employers and explaining their suitability for the desired position. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as one method of screening out applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their position or who lack necessary basic skills. Cover letters are typically divided into three categories:
- The application letter or invited cover letter which responds to a known job opening
- The prospecting letter or uninvited cover letter which inquires about possible positions
- The networking letter which requests information and assistance in the sender’s job search
If you want an employer to actually read your cover letter, pay close attention to how you begin the letter. Effective ways to start a cover letter’s opening statement uses words that immediately grab the attention of the reader and then hold it tightly throughout the complete text of the letter.
In a nutshell, your cover letter should say, “I’m the right person for the job. I have unique skills and experience that will help your company right away. I hope you’re as excited about this as I am”. The accompanying resume should then prove your case.
Put another way, the cover letter is the advertisement for your resume. An effective cover letter establishes an immediate bond between reader and job applicant. It should demand attention and arouse enough curiosity in the mind of the reader to ensure that your resume is read thoroughly.
Cover letters and resumes do get separated (I know this from experience!) it’s important to write a cover letter that will make readers want to pick up the phone and call you even if they’ve never seen your resume.
- Show your enthusiasm about the job you want. Avoid sounding like 90% of applicants, who say (not in so many words): “Give me a job where I can advance and make more money.” Instead, convey this sense: “I’m excited about the possibility of bringing my skills and expertise to work for you.” This should be the main theme of your cover letter.
- State that you will follow up to schedule an interview. This is not considered rude by employers. Far from it. If you politely inform the reader that you’ll be calling within a few days to answer any questions and schedule an in-person interview, you set yourself apart from the crowd with your determination and confidence. Your persistence will pay off, eventually, in an interview for the job you want. And an interview is the goal of every cover letter.
- Keep your letter short and focused. This is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. Most cover letters, even those done by professional resume writers, ramble on in excruciating detail for one or even two full pages. Show respect for the limited time your reader has and limit yourself to four, five or six paragraphs at most.
Four cover letter mistakes to avoid
To avoid being tossed in the “circular file”, there are some things your cover letter should never do. Here are four of the most common mistakes to avoid:
- Don’t start off slow. Far too many cover letters take one, two or even three paragraphs to warm up. Start yours with a bang, like this: “I’m applying for the position of Caretaker at the Troy location of White Tower Apartments, as advertised in the Daily Tribune.” Here’s an easy way to find your best opening. First, write a draft copy of your letter. Second, look down the page for a concise statement that gets right to the point. Now, cut out the preceding text. Voila. You now have a powerful beginning for your cover letter.
- Don’t talk about your career goals. Avoid statements like, “I seek a position where my skills will be utilized and recognized with further advancement.” This selfish attitude will turn off more readers than it will ever impress. Besides, if you’ve done your homework, you’ll only be applying to companies that recognize and promote ability. Don’t waste the reader’s time by making demands before the two of you have ever met.
- Never, EVER mention salary. Even if the classified ad requests a salary history. Reason? Employers use salary histories to screen out candidates who are too expensive or not experienced/sophisticated enough to have made enough money previously. Including a salary history can only hurt your chances. It can never help. Solution? Include these five magic words near the end of your letter: “My salary requirements are negotiable”.
- Never mention why you left a previous job. Some people feel compelled to explain why they stayed so long (or so briefly) at prior jobs. Don’t. Prepare your answers for any hard questions about your employment history … then save them for the job interview. This is no time for confessions. Don’t include anything in your cover letter that could result in doors being closed.
A word about style. There are still some who say a cover letter should never contain contractions, such as “I’m” or “you’re“. Nonsense. Contractions are perfectly acceptable in modern business correspondence. Cover letters are no exception. Having said that, if you feel uncomfortable using contractions, don’t. Just be sure you maintain a consistent style throughout your letter.
It only takes a few dollars. Job-winning cover letters help get you the interview!
Get Your Cover Letter
The purpose of a cover letter is to convince the recipient–the hiring manager, recruiter or networking contact–to read your resume and offer you an interview.
There are many kinds of letters you can use to show your professionalism and proactively create career opportunities. Here are some examples of letters you might use during your career development and job search campaign:
Cover Letter: Approaching a company directly for a position that may or may not be posted.
Recruiter Letter: Submitting your resume to a recruitment firm for appropriate openings.
Networking Letter: Proactively requesting a meeting to solidify a business relationship.
Confirmation Letter: Confirming that the material sent was received.
Thank You Letter: Thanking a person for meeting with you.
Follow-Up Letter: Asking for next steps in the process.
If you are sending someone your resume, don’t think that a cover letter is not important. Your submission will naturally look weaker than another one where the time was taken to include a letter. Even those who may not read your cover letter carefully might notice your lack of commitment to the opportunity.
If you’re thinking about slapping together a letter using a template downloaded from the internet, you’ll easily turn off recruiters who regularly see common templates. Be diligent in your approach and craft letters that match the recipient’s values and the targeted role. Recognize that there is a big difference between a letter that is in response to a posted position and one that is enquiring about a chance to meet. Similarly, the tone to a recruiting company should be distinct from that directed to the hiring firm. By putting the effort into writing a custom letter, you’ll show that you are serious about your application.
Here are ten tips to consider when writing your next letter to ensure that it truly presents you – and your resume – in a positive way:
- Address your letter properly. Create a professional, businesslike tone from the start. Make sure that you include the name and title of the person you are contacting. Include the full company name and address in your address block. If you are referring to a specific position or posting, include that information in a separate subject line.
- Open with a compelling message that addresses the perspective of the reader as an external recruiter, the hiring manager, the company representative, or your networking contact. For example, if your letter is addressed to the employer, you’ll want to say that you want to work for them. Alternatively, if you are speaking to an external recruiter, say that you want to work for their client.
- Mention the name of any significant, mutual connection – someone consequential who endorsed or referred you. This helps the reader make an important association and may compel them to call you.
- Make it clear up front that you have the key experience required for the position you are targeting. Address the company’s needs and only discuss your competencies and expertise that relate to those needs.
- Be specific in your writing. Provide examples of successes in concise, one- or two-line bullet points. Make sure your selections truly fit the objectives of the position. While you may be proud of a particular coup, if it does not support your candidacy for the role, fight the urge to include it in the letter.
- If you are writing about a specific job opportunity, consider using a T-chart to compare what the posting asks and what you bring to the table. This strategy will compel you to include only the most pertinent details.
- Reflect on what you know about the company, its reputation, values, culture, and/or objectives. Discuss how your own career brand and goals are similar to theirs. Your value proposition should be the thread that ties your letter to their organization.
- Make it clear that you want to make a difference for them – even if they don’t have a position at this time. By addressing the future needs of an organization and the type of support they can expect from you, even a ‘cold contact’ letter becomes ‘warmer.’
- Ensure that you wrap up by asking for the next step in the process. Reinforce your request for an interview or short meeting.
- Make the final call to action yours. Let the reader know you appreciate how busy they are by offering to connect with them in the near future to see if they have questions or would like to meet.
After sending every letter, be sure to follow up when you say you will. This action is very important for a number of reasons. First, you are demonstrating that you respect the importance of the reader’s time. Second, you are giving evidence that you are someone who follows through – even on small intentions. Third, you are taking a step that makes it clear you really want that particular opportunity and are not simply shipping out many resumes in the ‘shotgun’ style. Finally, you are making a legitimate connection that will help your name be remembered in a highly favourable way.
For more detailed information on some of the letter types featured here, I encourage you to visit Graham Management Group. There, you will find such articles as “Developing a Great Cover Letter” and “Writing an Effective Thank-You Letter.”