Minnesota School of Business-Plymouth Career Services Director drops by the blog to talk about the mysterious cover letter, and how it can make or break your chance at an interview.
The cover letter is a mysterious part of the hiring process. Some hiring managers may not even bother reading it. Some may comb through every piece of introductory information to eliminate candidates. In other instances, it may not be required at all.
There are many facets of the corporate selection process, and the cover letter can play a vital role in getting that first interview. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when creating your cover letter.
It Can’t Be Said Enough: Do Your Homework
I mentioned in prior posts that doing your homework is very important to the whole job search process. This is also true when it comes to writing your cover letter.
Make sure to focus on the often-overlooked greeting. Addressing your cover letter to the right person will show your attention to detail and make it stand out that much more.
Browsing the staff directory on the company’s website is the best way to get this information. Having troubles locating it on web? The next step is to call the company’s HR department. They can usually tell you who the best person is. Still having problems at this point? A “Dear hiring manager:” will work if the information is not available.
(Additional style tip: Use a colon instead of a comma in the salutation. They are more formal than your average, everyday comma.)
Keep Your Body Slim
Imagine the amount of applications hiring managers and HR reps receive for any given position. Now, imagine the mountain of cover letters from those applications. Working through those isn’t fun, even for the most avid of readers!
Your cover letter should only be three or four paragraphs: An introduction, a summary of your skills and a conclusion. I can assure you, the person that has to read hundreds of cover letters will be quite agitated with a multi-page letter. In fact, they won’t even bother.
Don’t Bite The Bullet
When I talk about keeping your cover letter short, I mean it. A great way to make your summary of skills portion easier to scan is using bullets. Somewhere in the neighborhood of four to six bullet points should work.
Wrap It Up
The final paragraph should summarize your whole cover letter. Be sure to summarize your qualifications, leave contact information and thank the reader for their time. You may want to tell the reader you will follow up the application with a call or email. If you do this, FOLLOW THROUGH!
Remember; do not take any part of the application process lightly. The smallest things can make a huge difference! And remember, we in career services are always here to help with your job search.