The Cover Letter: Cover Yourself Creatively

Posted by | August 8, 2012 | Tips For Job Seekers

To write one, or not to write one, that is the question. As much as many of us would rather just bypass the cover letter, your best bet is to submit one. A cover letter is an opportunity to share extra information about yourself in direct correlation to the job you are applying to; it’s your opportunity to make the extra connection to the person who is hiring. The trick, however, is to catch their attention and keep it in about three paragraphs. Writing up a traditional cover letter is not going to help get you to the top of the “Yes” pile. Follow these tips for a stellar start.

Do your Research:

Read up about the company you are applying to by looking on their website or searching for articles and press releases about them. Find out the name of the person you are submitting your resume to, whether it’s the head of the HR department or the manager of the department you are vying to get into. Make sure to address your cover letter to that specific person, not just the “Dear Sir/Madam” technique of old. Whatever information you can glean about the company, weave it into your cover letter, as appropriate. Demonstrating that you have knowledge about their company will show that you are more on top of things than the applicants who haven’t bothered to put forth the effort.

Be creative:

Your opening line should have the ‘catch.’ Avoid the boring “Please accept my resume for the position of…” Instead, think of a creative opener. A great one that caught my attention the other day was for a marketing position in a small town: “Gossip is the foundation in any small community.” The applicant carried on to explain why this was true, and how a grassroots approach to marketing was the most viable option for this organization. Certainly a different approach to introducing yourself to a company! Another good opening line can be a quote that is relevant to the role/company. Perhaps a Mother Theresa quote for someone who is applying to be a nurse, or a George Lucas quote for someone who wants to get into movie production. You get the idea.

Make the connection:

Tell the employer why you are the desirable candidate. If they are looking for someone with A, B C skills – and you have them – tell them. But back those up with tangible evidence of how and when those skills were demonstrated. Focus only on what is relatable; telling them about your experiences working as a landscaper when you are applying for a PR job is not going to help the hiring manager see why he or she should hire you. Explaining how you assisted the office coordinator create advertising material for the landscaping company would make more sense. You want to give them an idea of your capabilities so that they can see how you are going to help them.

Finish firmly:

Close off with a strong, positive ending. Reiterate the job you are applying for, the skills/experiences you have in relation to the job, and how you are going to help them. Conclude with a follow up statement that you will be in touch with them on a certain day to see if they have any questions about you or your resume. Keep the polite “Thank You” – that is a closing tradition that will never go away.

Job searching is like anything else in life: the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

~ Melissa Macfarlane is a Career Development Professional with Northern Lights Canada.

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