Cover Letters: Keep Them Simple But Targeted

It can be tempting to minimize the importance of writing a well-thought-out cover letter.  After all, when you’re done writing or rewriting your resume over and over again you are just eager to get it out in circulation.

Slow down and remember that your cover letter is just as important as your resume.  Without it, your reader may never look at your resume.  But with a clear and concise cover letter your potential employer or networking contact becomes interested in learning more about you.  That’s what you want.  And hopefully, your reader is also motivated to invite you to discuss the position further or to come in for a formal interview.  Bottom line . . . your cover letter opens up doors for you to move to that next step in the hiring process.

Keep It Simple & Targeted

But you don’t have to start from scratch.  Use the hard work you put into your resume to identify what makes you unique and valuable to this specific employer for this specific position. Note that I’m saying “specific”.

Your cover letter must be very targeted.  It should clearly tie in your qualifications, skills and talents to what this potential employer is looking for – their needs at this time.  You are positioning yourself as their best solution.

Keep it simple by remembering that your cover letter just needs to do these five things:

  1. Introduce Yourself
  2. Capture the Reader’s Interest in You
  3. Highlight & Link Your Qualifications to the Needs of the Reader
  4. Identify the Clear Value You Will Bring Upon Hire
  5. Motivate the Reader to Call You!

An excellent resource is “Cover Letter Magic, 3rd Edition” by Wendy Enelow & Louise Kursmark, Career Masters Institute, 2007.  I use this book all the time because it gives a clear road map (with six steps) on how to identify your key selling points; condense them into strong summary sentences and then how to integrate them into customized cover letters.  Almost makes it easy to do!



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