Notice I didn’t use the word GENERIC in the post title. Reusable was chosen specifically, because you always need to tailor your cover letter to fit the need. Cover letters are an important tool to get an interview; Second to the resume. HR managers read them, but it’s obvious when someone has given zero thought to the specifics of the position or intricacies of the prospective company. So how do you address this quandary? This is what today’s post is all about.
Be honest, how much time have you put into your cover letter? I bet it is nowhere near the amount of cumulative time you have spent on your resume. As a career strategist, I have seen it all. But the details matter. A poorly constructed cover letter can actually hurt your chances versus the contrary. Here are some tips and best practices on constructing your cover letter so you are not starting from scratch with every job you apply to, and also, addressing the specific needs of the prospect or position itself.
Greetings, “Good day, sir / ma’am”… I need to start here. The salutation. Sure, perfectly acceptable to be respectful and polite, but dig a little deeper here. Get the NAME of the person who posted the job. Or, who is the HR contact? Doesn’t feel very personable from the onset when you get a letter that says, “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir / Ma’am”. I dislike the latter more, because it implies that you don’t have any clue at all. It has to be a man or woman who is reading this letter, right? Not a robot? Sometimes you can do the diligence, but still won’t come up with the name tied to the posted position or job opening. It’s an inevitable truth that “To whom it may concern” might be the best addressee, but please exhaust all avenues before using this label. If you get a NAME – it ups your chances of getting an interview by atleast 10%. Reusable: Make a placeholder for NAME.
Dear Abraham Lincoln,
I am writing this letter in reference to… Yada yada
More fill in the blanks – paragraph 1. Started to allude to this above, but you really shouldn’t need to tweak too much. Many people – in my opinion – make the mistake of getting into how awesome they are right from paragraph one, but WHAT is the purpose of this cover letter? The reader should understand WHY you are writing a cover letter, right? This is the same thing with a book (Introduction) or even a T.V. show. The reason you may watch an episode, is based on understanding WHAT it might be about. If the show is new to me, I am going to click on the guide or info to learn more. YOU are assuming that they know why you are writing the cover letter, but there might be 42 jobs they are managing. You have to be clear on your purpose. Reusable: Make a 1st paragraph that can address HOW you came across the position and what you are applying for at the company.
Dear ____________ ,
I am writing this letter in reference to Job # 1845, the Senior Project Manager position posted in LinkedIn. I am strongly interested in this position and wish to be considered for this opportunity. Please see my attached resume. You will find that I have many of the skills and requirements listed in the job description. I have shared some of which below:
TIP: When it is more personalized, it will resonate with the hiring manager. You can plug-in different values for items in red font. Example: Maybe you found the job posted on the company’s web page – simply change to on your job page.
What are three things that ANY employer should know about you? This can get tricky. I am assuming that you are pursuing similar job types. In other words, you are a Project Manager looking for Project Management positions or something similar. BUT, not making a NEW jump to Accounting or Marketing. I use the rule of three. Three bullet points that will prompt the HR manager to look at my resume, if they are indeed reading my cover letter. THEY HAVE TO BE STRONG. Don’t lead out with, “I am a great worker”. What is supported by evidence? Factual information always make a better impression. At the same time, we want this to be tailored to the job description. Here is a trick – Always have a 3 -4 strong bullets, but know that in many cases you might miss the mark. That is, you should reserve atleast one bullet point in the body – if none of the three you normally use – address the job description. This gets you to the next level.
- Streamlined processes saving company 2 Million dollars **(From resume – Recent experience)**
- XX – Our filler…_________________________
- Implemented ALL clients in 5 months, when department average for typical implementations is 6 months **(From resume – Recent experience)**
So what is the XX for above? I like to insert my tailored bullet point – based on the job description – in the middle. Not at the bottom. I have my reasons. Do you know why? Here is what the final product might look like (Paragraph 2):
As an experienced Project Manager I have been recognized for my high quality work. Clients have rated me 10 out of 10 in customer surveys and none of my projects have been over budget in the past 6 years. I am proud of my accomplishments. Here are some more, which is just a sampling of my professional experience and abilities:
- Streamlined processes saving company 2 Million dollars
- Managed project using Microsoft Project with >50 Million in annual revenue; Responsible for all reporting to executive team
- Implemented ALL clients in 5 months, when department average for typical implementations is 6 months
1 Page is all you get. I am sure we can all write volumes of great information about ourselves. Noone cares. In one page you have to convey WHY they want to move forward and give you a call (send an email) OR will decide to review your resume. This is the truth – I used to be a recruiter, believe me. The cover letter is just a TASTE, but it has to have the specifics aforementioned. Lastly, it needs a closing. Remember, you are selling them. They don’t owe you anything. Show confidence. Reiterate interest. And how the heck should they get in touch with you? Easy to make this reusable.
In closing, I want to reiterate my interest in the Senior Project Manager Position. I am excited to help ABC company. I am hard-working, dependable, and have great leadership skills, which have always been an embodiment of my career in project management. I would like to set-up an interview at your convenience, I can be reached at (444) 444 – 4444. Or, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to your correspondence.
The little things: Make sure your fonts are all the same (especially if pasting bullet points from the resume onto the cover letter). Font size, style – – Should all gel. Watch spacing, margins. TREAT THIS like you would a resume. If you do what is described above, you will get your chance.
Today’s post is part of our “Know-vember” initiative. Set goals today – have a goal to finish by 11/30. Crafting a reusable Cover Letter is a perfect tool to have in your arsenal. Need help? We have career services to get you to the next level. At Bizzeebobber, we know it takes more than just a pretty template or an e-course. We are very hands-on and provide these instructional details, so you know you have a partner every step of the way. And the best part is, WE are reusable, too.