Over the past several months, I have been experimenting with a new cover letter strategy. This isn't something I just made up - it's based on research from all the top pros in human resources and job search strategists.
Let's discuss first some points that cover letters should not be:
|Bored manager - Reading your cover letter!|
- Long, overly wordy, boring
- Filled with irrelevant information
- Typos, incorrect grammar, spelling, or otherwise poorly written
- Non existent - no cover letter accompanies the resume
|Boring cover letter file|
- 23% of respondents removed applicants from consideration if letters were longer than 1 page.
- 83% of respondents reported the average length of time they spent reading a cover letter was one minute or less.
- 69% of the HR professionals prefer personalized cover letters.
- 14% of respondents stated that if they receive a cover letter of poor quality, the candidate is eliminated as a possibility.
- 76% said typos in cover letters would cause them to remove the applicant from the pool of possible candidates.
- 28% of respondents said they will not consider a resume if a cover letter did not accompany it.
Okay, so you can tell I love statistics! But the point is - the cover letter, its content, and quality are vital in your successful job search. Are you harming yourself by not including a cover letter or could you be putting yourself out of the running for jobs you want and are qualified for because your cover letter isn't top notch?
The cover letters I had been writing - for myself and my clients - averaged about 250 words. These were great quality letters; however the new strategy I am using cuts the length by nearly 50% and averages only 119 words! I can be a pretty wordy talker, but even I know that sometimes less actually says more. It's a perfect length for email as the reader doesn't have to scroll excessively to read the whole letter.
- Succinct with only crucial, relevant information - remember they are spending less than 1 minute reading it!
- It should let the employer know what's in it for them - how they will be able to recoup their investment in hiring you.
- Include 1-2 points that "prove" you will bring value to their firm.
- Customized and targeted to the job to which you're submitting it.
- Use a call to action - take initiative and let the hiring manager know when you will contact them.
- Well written, correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, no types, well-formatted.
It boils down to qualifications and quality of your job acquisition tools. Whether you are pursuing jobs at the $30,000 salary level or $300,000 level - it is well worth the small investment to hire a resume / job search consultant to ensure you have the best possible tools in your arsenal. You have less than 60 seconds to make an impression - what kind of impression do you want to make?
Contact a professional resume / job search consultant today!
(1) Survey Stats thanks to http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-what-employers-want-in-a-cover-lette.html#ixzz1DDB2IVpB