Cover Letters, Part IV: Cover Letters That Get You the Interview, or A Good Cover Letter Is Hard to Find

We’ve spent several posts talking about what makes a terrible cover letter. Here are 3 specific techniques that go into constructing great cover letter:

  1. A great cover letter doesn’t bore or antagonize.

Your cover letter is not about you, at least not to start. Your cover letter is about what you can do for the company to which you are applying. Tell the hiring manager why you understand the company’s situation or position. Explain what you bring that is unique and essential to the position. Capitalize on the hiring manager’s need to hire someone they don’t have to train and who can hit the ground running.

Additionally, don’t whine, demand, or convey in any way that you need something from the company. Don’t be rude or childish in your prose. Don’t be too personal, and don’t use instant-messaging speak (e.g., “CU l8r” is great for your pals, but it makes a terrible impression on a professional). In other words, don’t give the reader a reason to reject your letter out of hand.

Your professional resume and cover letter writer understands the correct language, tone, and presentation for your cover letter. She will demonstrate your keen industry understanding in an inviting, carefully worded manner. She knows your industry well, so she’ll select timely business topics that are relevant and interesting to the hiring manager.

2. A great cover letter is thought-provoking.

A great cover letter presents your qualifications in light of the company’s needs, not the other way around (news flash: the company doesn’t care about your needs, wants, or aspirations). Make the recruiter think that you are the right person for the job. You can do this by presenting a thought-provoking statement about the industry, or even a contradiction that only you, with your brilliant career, can untangle for the reader.

The writing professional you select should be able to craft a document that hooks the hiring manager instantly. She’ll demonstrate a bit of creativity on your behalf, utilizing your branding and industry expertise as the basis for a structured introduction that will have the hiring manager nodding in agreement with your perspective.

3. A great cover letter functions as an advertisement for your resume.

The subsequent paragraphs or bullets should reflect your amazing expertise. You have about 10 to 20 seconds to convince the hiring manager to put your resume into the “call for interview” pile. A good resume/cover letter writer will select the best of your accomplishments and craft vibrant achievement statements that reflect the specific position—without rewriting or copying the applicant’s resume.

A cover letter either resonates with a recruiter or hiring manager, or it falls flat. What do you want yours to do? Contact us about our approach to cover letters that put yours at the top of the “call for an interview” pile.

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