Writing cover letters can be one of the most difficult tasks in your job search. Although it might have taken you a while to prepare your resume, and it certainly required a great deal of effort, once it’s done, it’s done. Although there are exceptions, generally a job seeker will use just one resume throughout a job search. Cover letters, on the other hand, must be individually written to have the most impact and generate the most response. This means that you will have to create a new letter each time you send a resume.
Cover letters are “situation-dependent.”
Are you writing in response to an advertisement, reaching out to a network contact, following up on a past letter and resume you submitted, or just sending a general letter of inquiry? What if you are writing the letter in response to a specific referral from one of your colleagues? What if you re writing to recruiters who specialize in your industry or your profession? The situation dictates the strategy behind the cover letter and the specific information you will include.
You need to communicate different information to different people in your cover letter.
Suppose you Ye a customer service representative in the credit-card industry and you Ye interested in a similar position in the telecommunications industry. The focus in your letter should be on (1) your years of experience in customer service, and not your industry background. However, if you Ye seeking to transition into a human resources position in telecommunications, your letter should focus on (1) your years of experience in the* industry and (2) the skills and qualifications you have that are transferable to human resources (for example, employee hiring, training, scheduling, and salary administration). Remember, paint the picture you want the reader to see while remaining in the realm of reality!
You must be creative in presenting your qualifications in your cover letter.
Cover letters should complement your resume, not repeat it.Do not copy text, word for word, straight out of your resume. This means that you will have to decide how to communicate similar information in different words. Here’s a quick example: If you’re a sales representative and have highlighted specific sales achievements under each position in your resume, you do not want to repeat that same information in your letter. However, you still want to communicate that you’ve been successful. Instead of listing your individual sales achievements, you might want to summarize them to span your entire career or categorize them by type (for example, revenue growth, new account development, and new product introduction).
Cover letters need to convey information that is meaningful in the particular situation. For instance, if you’re reading to an advertisement, your letter should address all (or most) of the hiring requirements as stated in the ad. Demonstrate that you are the number-one candidate. More information on this point follows later in this chapter.
Some employers might require that you provide specific information in your cover letter. If you are writing in response to ail advertisement, the ad might request you to submit information such as salary history’ (what you have earned in the past and in your current position). salary requirements (what your current salary expectations are), verification of U.S. nationality or residency, or other specific data.