Cover Letters are Not a Formality – “To Whom it May Concern” Won’t Get You Hired
Do you think writing a cover letter to accompany your job application is a waste of time? Think again. Cover letters are more than just a formality; hiring managers do in fact read these letters of introduction. That is, if they are worth reading.
Take advantage of this opportunity to highlight your achievements and send memorable, well written cover letters. This is the first impression you make with a future employer and it may help you move on to the next stage in their hiring process. A few key points:
1) Don’t start your letter with “To Whom it May Concern”. Is that really the best you can do? The recipient of a letter addressed that way will know right away that you did not take the time to find out who they are. And if you didn’t spend any time learning who they are, then how badly do you want the job? Do a little research — go online or call the company and find out the name of the hiring manager and address the letter to them.
2) Your first line should grab the reader’s attention. If your opening is something along the lines of “I am writing to express my interest in the position of…” then I ask you again, is that really the best you can do? Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager. Assume that there are numerous letters and applications flooding their inbox. Their eyes are likely glazing over as they read through these letters so GET THEIR ATTENTION! Begin your letter with something original and relevant. Mention an article you read recently about their company or industry. Or emphasize an aspect of the position that really interests you. Whatever you choose, convey you are writing to them in particular.
3) A cover letter is a cover letter and a resume is a resume. Don’t confuse the two. Using a cover letter to simply restate the qualifications already listed on your resume is wasting a valuable opportunity to add important information to your application. Show enthusiasm for the company and share attributes that make you uniquely qualified for this position.
Make sure your letter is professional, thank them for their consideration and include an appropriate closing, such as “Sincerely”. If you are truly interested in a job, put effort and thought into your cover letter. Every opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition is an opportunity you don’t want to waste.