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appealing to employer needs.
Cover letters, however, are more important than ever. Today’s job seekers need to stand out as much as possible, so you need to use every tool in your arsenal, including a great cover letter. As a shy or introverted job seeker, creating an attention-getting cover letter should be easier for you than for extroverts because of your ability to focus, to write well, and to persevere to achieve a goal.
So although other job search tasks such as cold calling employers and networking with strangers may be difficult for you, writing an impressive cover letter is in your wheelhouse. A cover letter, like all job-search material, is a marketing document.
As a former hiring manager, I’ve seen many bad cover letters. The worst ones usually start this way: “To Whom It May Concern.” Stop. Right. There. So many things are wrong with this opener. It’s archaic, stuffy, impersonal, and unfriendly. If you know the name of the person who will read your cover letter, then use it. Sometimes you can learn the person’s name through a networking contact or by making a quick phone call and saying something like this: “I am applying for your accountant opening, and I want to address the correct person in my cover letter. How do you spell the hiring manager's name?” Although this approach may not always get you a name, on occasion it might. If you can’t obtain a name, use something friendlier for your opening, such as “Good Morning.”
Warning: If you are modifying a cover letter you used for another application, be sure to change things like the addressee’s name and company name. I’ve seen too many cover letters where the sender didn’t change this information. You won’t make a good first impression if you do the same.
Next comes the opening paragraph. Most cover letters start with a variation of the following: “Enclosed is my resume for your sales associate job”; “I saw your ad for an office assistant and am applying for the position”; or “I am interested in your warehouse receiver opening and have uploaded my resume for your perusal.” What’s wrong with these openers? They are boring. They have no punch.
A stronger opening connects to employer needs. Here are some better examples: “As a call center associate with five years of experience in resolving customer problems beyond expectations, I am interested in your call center staff position.” Or, “With a passion for animals and an empathy for pet owners’ concerns, I am interested in the front desk position at your pet boarding facility.” These opening paragraphs convey a benefit to the employer and to the business.
My next blog will continue this topic and explore the other parts of a great cover letter. Come back soon!