Don't be mistaken, please don't single out your resume or CV as your unique ticket to more job interviews. It's your cover letter that may matter even more. Your cover letter is THE marketing tool to make clear to an employer why you stand out in the crowd. It could be your "foot in the company's door" and deliver you that job interview that simply changes your career.
10 tips for writing your cover letter:
Your cover letter should be a 1 pager, following business letter format, which includes margins that are about 1, standard font 10-12 point obviously without any grammatical or spelling errors. For hard copies, print your letter on good quality, plain paper that matches your resume and envelope. If you send your cover letter via email, you can write either a brief notice that introduces your attached full cover letter and resume, or use a modified cover letter for your email with only your CV attached. Both ways are equally accepted.
A letter should always be addressed to an individual by name, with the correct title and address. If you don't have this information, call the company and ask for it. Titles should also be used in the salutation as: "Dear Mr. Smith, Dear Dr. March. "Dear Mr." without a last name, or "Dear Manager" is lifeless. First names should not be used in the address and salutation, unless you know the addressee personally.
- Open with an attention-grabbing first sentence
You can only make a first impression once. That's so true for your cover letter. If you start with a sentence that grabs the reader's attention, it will almost guarantee that your cover letter and resume will get a closer look.
Remember: less is more. Focus on the essentials of your message, and transfer any detail to your resume. 1 page, really, with generous margins. Paragraphs should be limited to 4-8 lines. The first line of a paragraph should clearly state the message of the paragraph
Tailor your letter to position and organization
Ask yourself: what can you do for the employer, how can the organization benefit from your skills. If you don't know this, do some research. Mention the particular aspects of the company that appeal to you, but don't exaggerate your interest and qualifications. Focus more on what you have to offer to the company rather than what they have to offer you.
Style: it must be you
Your letter should be vibrating enthusiasm and passion for the position you seek. While you'll want to keep the tone and language professional, stay yourself. Don't write a too formal letter, it will make it harder for you to express your interest and enthusiasm for the job. Simple direct sentences are preferable. And always use a concise, direct approach.
Request for action at the end
If you want to be invited for a job interview, you'll have to ask. So request the action you want your new employer to take. End your your cover letter with an enthusiastic request:"I would really like the opportunity for a personal interview.", or less direct:"I look forward to being interviewed at your earliest convenience. Thank you so much for this opportunity." Sincerely, and then your name.
- Proofread your letter
Read your letter out loud to catch typos or awkward phrasing. It's a common thing to do for editors because a typo is easily made, so check and double check. Let someone else check your letter as well. You would never forgive yourself a day later, checking on your copy of your cover letter, and find out that there's an error in it. That error could ruin your success.
- Follow up your cover letter
If you didn't hear anything within a week after you have send you cover letter, follow up with preferably a phone call, or if you really can't get in touch with the employer, send a follow up cover letter. Following up your cover letter can double your chance for success.
Keep track of your letters
Create a file that holds copies of your cover letters, and make notes about any correspondence / conversations between you and the employer. You don't want to mix up potential employers, that would be embarrassing - an easy admin job can keep you from blowing you chances.