FORT LAUDERDALE – So you think that you have created a “knock your socks off” resume and you are ready to go head to head with hiring managers and employers and prove to them that you deserve an interview! Well, don’t forget to send it with your secret Ninja Warrior – the ever-powerful and awe-inspiring cover letter!
Given that a well-written resume can open lots of doors of opportunity, a dynamic cover letter has proven to be even MORE critically important overall to the strength and power of your sales pitch (“yes, you are selling a product to them, You!”) to hiring managers and employers. You are selling them on the idea on why you think you deserve an interview over 100’s of other candidates.
Most HR professionals and experts have gone on record with journalists and journal editors that they tend to spend a lot more time reading the cover letter and tend to simply glance at the resume. If what they say is true that you only have your 15 seconds of fame, wouldn’t you want to spend more of your precious time on what may equate to a “full-read” (the cover letter, the deal-changer) than a mere “glance” (the resume).
The simple fact about requesting a job interview is that you will never truly know what swayed the employer to call you and set up an interview. If you have secret insider information about the job interviewing decision process, wouldn’t you be compelled to capitalize on this information?
Here are five simple strategies that you can use right now to gain the attention of hiring managers and employers:
1. Clearly State the Purpose of your Letter in the First Sentence with a Bold Captivating Statement. For example, “With a strong background in accounting and saving clients over $100 million in taxes in the last seven years, I am confident that I can exceed your expectations in the role of Senior Accountant II”. Being bold in the beginning of your cover letter means you immediately set a precedent and you back it up with a story line in your cover letter. If you are successful with backing up your precedent, it should sway the hiring manager in favor of at least a phone interview.
2. Take a pen right now and strike-through the “I” first person references you have made in your current cover letter and replace at least half of them with what HR experts call “solution-emphasis statements”. Hiring managers have requirements for a job and they are looking for a solution. You need to make the mental switch from “I” and restructure your cover letter to highlight ways your skills and qualifications can address the needs of the company and most importantly, offer solutions to their problems. The key to getting a job interview is focusing on the company’s requirements and what you hope to achieve to help them solve their problems and find solutions. Follow them on Twitter and pay close attention to their press releases and tweets that give “hints” about their corporate directives. As a Twitter follower of your target organization, you can stay “in the know” about the daily problems facing the organization and structure your job seeking strategy in real-time!
3. The style of your cover letter and resume should match as much as possible. You can call it “subliminal” or what ever suits you but hiring managers tend to look for consistency with fonts and font size. Don’t use a professional font like Times New Roman in your resume and then switch to a fancy font in your cover letter. Employers want to see consistency in your presentation; any simple inference can be seen as a reflection of your character.
4. When it’s time to write your cover letter, write a simple question on a separate 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, “Why Should I Hire You?” and keep it close to you — then start to write your cover letter. Every single word of your cover letter should be selling the Hiring Manager on the idea that you are right person for the job. Try to limit reference to your resume to just the TOP 5 qualities of your resume and highlight them in your cover letter and then mold them into a well-crafted and bold opening statement and closing statement. YES – your cover letter needs an opening statement and a closing statement, just like a great sales letter for shaving cream or a income opportunity system.
5. Where is the closing statement of your cover letter? If you fail to include a closing statement in your cover letter – you have made a huge mistake! The interviewing decision hinges on your cover letter’s closing statement. You can start your closing statement with the following statement, “Given your needs for a solid performer who is not afraid of new challenges and someone who is ready and willing to achieve strong results from Day One, we should talk further about my record of success in…..”. This is a great example of a powerful and bold statement to close your cover letter and secure your way to getting an job interview! This type of bold closing statement is also a tactical way to highlighting additional qualifications that the hiring manager may find useful, but barely touched upon in your resume!
Shoot for brevity when it comes to reiterating skills and qualifications from your resume. Your cover letter is your secret Ninja with its own unique mission. A great cover letter needs to appeal to the senses of the hiring manager in ways that are so compelling that hiring managers feel that they MUST contact you to set up an interview!
If at all possible, it is very important to limit the emphasis to skills and qualifications highlighted in your resume to just 5 bullet points in your cover letter. To summarize, focus on answering the central question, “Why Should I Hire You?” and restructure your cover letter to offer your hiring manager or employer a solution and you will see significant results in your job search. If a hiring manager has a problem (“just as if you had an itch, and you need to stratch it”), offer them a great solution and don’t forget to include your closing statement — your interviewing decision may hinge on it!