November 20, 2014
By Erin Kennedy, Certified Professional Resume Writer
When you submit a resume to a potential employer, what do you do to distinguish yourself from the other candidates for the position? Most people use a cover letter, although I have seen and heard of applicants attaching a post-it note. That’s a gutsy move. It may not always work, but it has worked in at least one case.
Why did the post-it note work? Because it was different. It was out of the ordinary and attention grabbing. But it wasn’t the post-it note that sealed the deal. It was what the applicant wrote on the post-it note. The message. The content.
And that’s what I’m going to focus on today. Simply submitting a cover letter with your resume isn’t enough to get you an interview. Your cover letter has to be attention-grabbing. It has to be unique.
With that in mind, here are four essential characteristics of a good cover letter:
1. Personal, yet professional.
Your resume is where you list your professional qualifications for the position to which you are applying. In your cover letter, you can get a little more personal. Not too personal, but let your personality shine through.
2. Fill the holes in your resume.
No resume is perfect. A potential employer will have questions. Your cover letter should briefly cover any glaring holes in your resume. Explain them in such a way that it makes sense to the interviewer so that he or she picks up the phone and calls you in for the interview.
3. Introduces you to your employer.
The interviewer will read your cover letter before they read your resume. That’s your first opportunity to catch his or her attention. Make a big splash. If your resume does its job, the interviewer will move quickly to the resume.
4. Shows your interest in the position.
A resume might be good for several jobs you want to apply for. A cover letter will apply only to one job. It should be customized for the position to which you are applying. Let the interviewer know you are really interested in that position.
A good cover letter gets your foot in the door. The resume keeps that door open. After an interviewer has read them both, they should call you in for an interview. If that happens, you know they’ve done a good job.
About the Author
Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW, BS/HR, is a Certified Professional & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant, and the President of Professional Resume Services, Inc., home to some of the best resume writers on the planet. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 10+ best-selling career books. She has achieved international recognition following yearly nominations and wins of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award. Erin has written thousands of resumes for executives and professionals. http://exclusive-executive-resumes.com.