The 3 secrets to powerful, interview-getting cover letters

image by Beau B

The concept of  a cover letter often remains a mystery to those people who have now created or hired a professional to create an accomplishment-driven resume. Perhaps the problem starts with the words “cover letter,” which seems to add to the confusion about what it is that the employer wants.

Different names for cover letters

A client e-mailed not long ago asking what a letter of application was… it is another word for cover letter. You will find different employers asking for cover letters using different terms: covering letter, resume cover page, letter of application, letter of interest, or job application letter. You might think that this permits you to write a generic letter that you slap on the top of the resume but No!

The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce you to the employer and outline what specific skills you have that fit the position that is available. If you try a one-size-fits-all strategy for your cover letters, you will rapidly find yourself on the bottom of the stack, deleted from the process, and getting the all too common rejection form letter.

The 3 secrets to powerful, interview-getting cover letters

  1. Research who it is going to and make sure you use that name on the cover letter. I know you are applying online so you think you get to skip this step. The question is: do you want a job or a career change? Then don’t stop by just applying online. Do your homework and send the resume and cover letter by snail mail or e-mail addressed to the person you believe is a key player in the hiring process.
  2. Make the letter specific to sell your skill sets and talents that fit the position you are targeting. Read the job description. Determine three to four key requirements and create a response to each of them. This can be a “You Desire” and “I Deliver” listing where you directly parallel the needs of the employer with your matching skills within the letter or perhaps a brief anecdotal response to key points in the job description. Whatever strategy you use, make the letter sell you to the employer.
  3. Ask for the interview. Don’t end the letter without clearly stating that you would like to talk to the hiring manager about the job. Being bold enough to state that you will call on Tuesday to set an interview time would be an excellent strategy for a sales or management position where part of the role is to be proactive. Applicants who act like strong candidates will be noticed.

Don’t forget to follow up after that letter goes off to the recipient. Many employers are looking for qualified candidates who demonstrate their qualifications throughout the job search process. Stand out from the crowd!

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  1. Shaun Marconi on August 22, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Making your cover letter relate to the job description is the key. I wish I did this earlier. Now, after looking at the job description I can now make a more effective cover letter that will not just get me noticed but will persuade the employer to call me.

    • Julie Walraven on August 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

      It is one easy thing, Shaun, that many people miss in the job search. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Leo on August 25, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Creating a cover letter that can mesmerize the employer isn’t a simple task. The 3 tips you’ve given is just perfect. I’ve done what the tips taught and I got the job. Cool.

    • Julie Walraven on August 25, 2011 at 5:36 am

      Excellent! When you know the secret, you find the way to your goals!

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