Many job applicants don't take the time to include a cover letter in their application materials, which can put them at an immediate disadvantage. But 86 percent of executives our company polled said cover letters are valuable when evaluating prospective employees. Here are some tips for making your cover letter stand out:
- Name names. Address your letter to the specific hiring manager rather than including a generalized introduction. If you don't know the hiring manager's name, call the company and ask.
- Do your homework. Research the company online and demonstrate how your knowledge and skills fit the job and could benefit the organization.
- Solve any mysteries. If you have any long employment gaps, explain how you filled the time. Mention professional development courses or volunteer activities that show effort to keep your skills current.
- Leave something for the resume. Limit your cover letter to one page, if printed, or a few paragraphs, if submitted in the body of an e-mail.
- Make a plan. Demonstrate your excitement for the position and conclude by identifying next steps such as, "I'll follow up with you next week to discuss meeting in person."
- Read and reread. Just as you would scrutinize your resume, take time to review your cover letter for typos and grammatical errors. Have a friend or mentor read it as an added precaution.
- Be a savvy submitter. When applying through online job boards, always choose the option to add your cover letter to your resume. When e-mailing application materials to a hiring manager, paste your cover letter within the body of your message.