Five Hints To Freshen Up Your Cover Letter

1.         Open Your Cover Letter with “Punch!”

Start off with something impressive, an accomplishment that demonstrates your past successes because you can be seen as an asset for the company to which you apply.  Example:

In my past two jobs, I increased sales by a minimum of 40% in the first 2 years and I believe I can do the same for the ABC Corporation.”

Go on to briefly discuss your fit with the company.  If you establish your value right off the bat, you will be encouraging the hiring managers to look further.  It will set you apart from dozens of other resumes in the pile, and may even get you short-listed.


2.         Use “Cause and Effect” Statements

When you utilize “cause and effect” statements in your cover letter, you express your value because you state that you did “this,” which resulted in “that.”  You show that you truly yielded a certain result while in a position of employment, or in a volunteer capacity.  Example:

While I began my career at Environment Magazine as an assistant copy editor, I was also able to pitch story ideas that helped to increase readership by 30% in the first 18 months.”

Prospective hiring managers want to see how your positive past results can be an advantage to their company, should they hire you.


3.         Tell Them Why You Are Different!

Include that special quality item that makes you different.  You may speak Mandarin, Russian, or Spanish, or multiple languages.  You may have won an award writing an essay contest as a senior at college, studied art in Italy during your junior year abroad, or were on the volleyball team in high school.  What separates you from others is what you need to demonstrate.  Example:

“My experience growing up in rural West Virginia gave me a rich environment to draw upon, and I was forced to depend on my own imagination and creativity.  At CM University, I was among the first 10 graduates of the first Department of Imagineering in the country, and I believe I can bring a good deal of fresh thinking to the New School of Imagineering Technology.”

Whether you draw upon your volunteer work, teaching children to read, helping Veterans or love painting, you want to give the hiring manager a taste of why you are different than another candidate.


4.         Use Keyword Rich Words

Study the job description for keywords and make sure you tailor your cover letter to the job description. These words are identifiers for your job. They assure the hiring manager that your resume includes the same important job qualification descriptors that are included in the job description.  Right away, this determines if you are a possible fit for the position.  Some companies use computers to scan your resume and do the first cut mechanically.  If the match is not good, your resume may not even make it to the hiring manager’s desk.  Example:

Job Description: “Executive Administrator wanted for growing company in consumer electronics industry.  Must know Microsoft, Excel, Word, Power Point, ERP Operating Systems (Sage Mas 90 or 200), etc.”

You certainly want to include some or all of the following keywords in your cover letter: “executive administrator,” “consumer electronics,” “ERP Operating Systems,” “Power Point,” and so on.  These words should, of course, be in the body of your resume.  You want your cover letter to attract the attention of the computer or the human being making the first cut by using key phrases and words noted in the job advertisement or description.  Your chances of getting to the top of the pile increase!


5.         Align Your Cover Letter

It is very important that a cover letter be re-shaped to what you believe the company is looking for because you will be attracting the hiring manager right away.  If you use the standard, “enclosed please find” with no explanation of why you are a great fit for the job, your resume may never even be read.  Example:

Job Description:  “Medical Assistant (front office) needed on the west side of Los Angeles for plastic surgeon.  Must have a minimum of 5 years experience and have excellent skills working with patients in a friendly office.  Must speak Spanish fluently and work a very flexible schedule.  40 hour week.”

My letter needs to include my 7 years experience working in the front office in the Dermatology Department at UCLA, how flexible I can be, if I can work a 40-hour week and if I speak fluent Spanish.  If I show in my cover letter, that I possess all or most of their requirements, I have a greater chance of attracting the hiring manager’s attention.

Five Must-Do’s for Job Seekers

1.  DO Expand Your Scope [Don’t Limit Yourself]

Limiting your options narrows your opportunities.  The more types [categories] of jobs you apply for can multiply the possibility of landing a job.  For example, if you came from a background of fund raising, you may transfer those skills to sales, because you have been training in knowing how to “ask.”  Similarly, if you planned events as a children’s librarian in a public library, you may be able to transfer those skills to a company that specializes in event planning.  When you expand your possibilities, more opportunities can present themselves.

2.  DO List All Your Skills, Abilities, Special Talents and Experiences

Everyone has qualities that set them apart from others.  You may know a second language, may have traveled some place exotic, volunteered, come from a family of 10 children, earned an award, or played club soccer.  Anything that sets you apart from the rest of the applicants can be a memorable distinction to the hiring manager/interviewer.  Never underestimate your values, talents, and special gifts.  Everyone has at least one to share!

3.  DO Have Multiple Resumes.  With each resume emphasizing different strengths and abilities, your chances of landing a job increase by 50 to 100%.

The former executive director of a non-profit agency has experience raising money, managing staff, writing grants and planning events.  This person could have 4 or more resumes looking for positions such as  i) a grant writer  ii)  an event planner  iii)  a major gifts officer  iv)  an administrator/manager.  Stay open and positive about all opportunities and possibilities as your chances of landing a job will increase.

4.  DO Reach Out To Your Network and Beyond

At first networking may seem overwhelming.  It’s important to either make a list or create a visual picture of each of your networks (current and former positions/jobs, family, friends, local retailers you frequent, gym, social clubs, spiritual centers, kid’s school parents and team parents, dance instructor, spouse’s racquetball partner).  Now consider all the people each of those people know!  You never know who is looking for his/her own employee, or knows of a friend who is looking for an employee in his company. A gym acquaintance sits on a board of a local social service agency and heard they were looking for a business officer.  You may be the one!  Until you let others know you will never know just who has the inside scoop on a possible job for you.

5.  DO Have Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

If you are without work or if you have a job but are looking to switch jobs or careers, it is important to decide how long you can manage without income or without getting stir-crazy.  As a short-term goal, you may need to take a short-term job to generate cash flow or to stay in the game. You may work on temporary communications consultant projects for small businesses or nonprofits while waiting to land the corporate position. Your current position is not necessarily tied to your long-term goal.  Do see this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

Life Coach in Los Angeles – Susanne Kahle – 310-592-6260