Cover Letter Strategy—Format of a Great Resume Cover Letter

Cover Letters: The Great Divide Among Hiring Managers

The world is binary, as the humorous quote states: “There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.” It’s also divided into hiring managers who love cover letters and those who hate them.

Which type of hiring manager are you speaking to when you submit your resume? The answer is you don’t know. This means you have to submit your resume with a cover letter that sings. Every time. No exceptions. Starting now.

Your Strategy for Catching a Hiring Manager’s Attention

You can search the web for samples—but they won’t always be right for your job search.  Some are of the “please read my attached resume” variety, and those will simply bore your reader

As you read these resume and samples them, look for the following format:

  1. Standard letter-writing format. Include a header with your address and contact information.
  2. Proper salutation. Address your reader formally with “Dear Ms. Smith:”, or, if you don’t know the hiring manager’s name, “Dear Hiring Manager:.” “To whom it may concern” is strikingly impersonal, and “Dear Scott” is too informal, even if you know the hiring manager personally.
  3. Clever opening paragraph. This is the hardest part of the cover letter. Tactics you can try include the following: Invite the reader to join you in thinking about something related to the industry. Make a bold statement, and then defend it using your experience as an example. Make a bold statement and then refute it, using your history to disprove it. Whatever you decide to do, find a way to catch your reader’s attention and hold it. Make him want to read your resume, pick up the phone, and call you for an interview.
  4. List relevant accomplishments. Use a bulleted list if you want to highlight 3 or more accomplishments. Use a paragraph if you’re a recent graduate or want to tell a story rather than simply highlight facts.
  5. Ask for the interview. Close your letter with a request for the interview. You won’t get what you don’t ask for.
  6. Close your letter respectfully but not too personally. “Sincerely” always works. “Yours truly” seems a bit intimate for the purposes of your job search.

If you’ve read these strategies and are still stuck for ideas, check out some cover letter samples that met and beat every one of the above criteria. In fact, all of these cover letters got interviews for job candidates.

In conclusion, your cover letter should feel like your voice, reflect your resume, and, most importantly, reflect the position for which you are hiring. By following the format above, you’re sure to create an introduction to your resume that shouts “hire me.”

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