Perhaps an employer is interested in how you think. How you highlight and express your skills and talents. A crafted cover letter acts as a bridge between what an employer is seeking and your skill set.
In a cover letter you are required to address the keywords in the job description. It is impossible to have just one cover letter to use to apply for all jobs these days. Instead, you must tailor a letter to show the skills that are applicable to the job that you’re applying for just as you do when you customize your résumé to fit a different job.
You must be selective and target an audience by including keywords and phrases which match what an employer is looking for. Say for example, you were applying for jobs in auditing, accounting, sales and marketing, the keywords you’d focus on in your résumé would have to do with financial skills and marketing experience. You would not highlight your skills as a sharpshooter even if you worked part-time as an instructor in a field you are not applying for.
Your cover letter should target specific skills. It is not up to the employer to define who you are from your many talents to determine if you are a “fit” for a position. Instead, you must select and highlight skills that demonstrate your ability to do the job and present your qualifications in a well defined organized cover letter.
At one time, college graduates put literally all their skills in a résumé and expected the employer to create a job for them. Trends are different today. You are expected to do the hard work of deciding what kind of a job you want and present your skills in a finely honed cover letter and resume that targets what you want to do. The qualifications that an employer is seeking is usually written in the job description of the ad. While the cover letter does not regurgitate all the information in your résumé, it summarizes your most relevant experiences, skills and important characteristics of the job and highlights examples from your background that support these experiences. While it is true that sometimes when you get hired for a particular job, you may discover that the work is somewhat different than the job description. However, an employer expects a resume that is targeted to fit the job.
Here are some techniques to create an array of powerful cover letters that are tailored to fit unique situations. For example:
• Develop job-seeking skills in Social Media that will pay dividends for years to come. If you play your cards right! When you learn how to create lively Networking Letters and Thank You Notes for the purpose of developing and maintaining a positive list of contacts, you can draw upon this info when searching for job leads. This is accomplished by joining on-line social networks, engaging people at networking events and creating a sparkling list of contacts from family, associations, colleagues, discussion groups, supervisors and leaders in your field.
• Discover Sales & Marketing secrets to accelerate the time it takes to get interviews by polishing a targeted summary and follow-up letter. A profile on LinkedIn, for example, is a combination of a sales letter and bio that also features your picture.
• Adapt Special Situation letters to handle Job Gaps, Name Dropping, and Letters of Application as well as a recommendation, personal statements and job proposal letters.
• Tell your story in a lively, carefully crafted profile that can be modified to add excitement to a Google, LinkedIn, or a Twitter bio’s as well as many other social media sites. The biography displays and markets your skills, knowledge and abilities for getting jobs or promoting your products.
• On LinkedIn, for example, it is good to have recommendations from others who have supplied glowing recommendations showcasing your work as a professional. Commenting on others blogs, joining and participating in groups that discuss issues related to your work is an excellent way to develop contacts and enhance your credibility.
• As an added bonus, you can start your own group to increase your reputation as an expert in your field. Create a profile highlighting your achievements, providing topics of conversation and opinions and asking others to contribute. Answer questions and provide your own opinions on different issues. Type in the words Meet Up as well as the area where you live in the address bar of a search engine such as Google to produce a list of groups that you can join to develop or share skills.
Strategies for Writing Exceptional Cover Letters
• Use transferable skills that can be transferred from one environment to another such as leadership, training, communication and conflict resolution skills.
• Match your stationery with that of your resume if you send it by snail mail. You can create a format that is the same as the format of your resume.
• Write the name, address and zip code of the person you are addressing the letter. Try to find the name of the hiring manager from a contact who works at the organization where you would like to work. Don’t use Dear Sir or Madam.
• Write the cover letter using 10-12 point type and keep it to four or five paragraphs
• Do not lie or exaggerate because what you say may be discussed at your interview.
• Avoid negative and controversial information
• Do not over use “I” in your cover letter.
• Discuss your Job related skills such as working with people, data, ideas, and things.