If you’ve been submitting resumes and not getting the response you hoped for, you may want to fix your cover letter. Why fix it? Because, hiring managers read hundreds of cover letters and resumes when searching for the perfect candidate. If your cover letter looks like the first chapter of “War and Peace”, there’s a real good chance that it will be placed on the “read later” stack and that’s not good.
Try these simple cover letter steps to increase your interview chances:
Use a bulleted format cover letter rather than a standard letter in paragraphs. The bulleted format is more eye catching, and is more likely to be glanced at by the hiring manager or other person assigned to sort through resumes. This format will help you get your resume seen by more people and as a result get more interviews and more job offers.
If you follow this advice and decide to use the bulleted format on your cover letter, make sure that each bullet point specifies a reason for the hiring manager to talk with you. This reason can be your number of years experience, your education, a personality trait that you have, or an accomplishment.
Examples of Cover Letter bullet points would be:
- Over 20 years experience in Human Resource Management.
- Outstanding work ethic. Lead by example.
- Master of Science in Education. Currently enrolled in Doctorate program.
- Saved last employer $30,000 in revenue through modernization of accounting system.
- Increased sales by 25% last quarter.
This bulleted format lows you to toot your own horn, but in a way that does not seem egotistical because it is obviously part of a resume package.
Another tip that will increase the readability of your cover letter is to use bold-faced fonts on occasion to emphasize points you want read. Bold face catches the eye, and is a common device used by graphic designers in advertising copy. Your resume and cover letter are marketing tools for you, just as a print media-advertising piece is a marketing tool for a business. Consider using bold face as tip from the Fortune 500 ad agencies that you can use without charge.
The next piece of advice to consider concerns the final paragraph of the letter, and will help you in your follow up efforts. When following up, often times the hardest thing to do is to get past the gatekeeper. The secretary or administrative assistant that screens calls for his or her boss has an important job to do, but so do you, and reaching the decision maker will make you look good.
The gatekeeper will try to stop you if the decision maker is busy—after all, he has better things to do with his time than speak with job seekers. So, in the final paragraph of your letter, before the “sincerely” and your name, simply state “I will call you next week to check on a convenient time to speak with you in person.” You have told the hiring manager you will be calling. Logically he should be expecting your call.
For this reason you may tell the gatekeeper that” Mr. HR Manager is expecting my call this week.” This will increase your chances of getting through, and of getting the interview. This tip is a variation on techniques that good business-to-business sales people use, and will work for you as well, bringing you more interviews and more job offers, but start with that good cover letter we talked about.