As stated in my previous article, Â“Job Search: The Purpose of A Cover Letter and How To Create OneÂ”, there is no one-size-fits-all cover letter. Each job opportunity is different and therefore, you need to create a cover letter specific to each job opportunity. It's not hard to do and in this article, I'm focusing on the most popular cover letter which is in response to a published ad. In order to make your cover letter stand out, you need to pay attention to the details in the ad.
The most common cover letter is written in response to a published ad in a local newspaper. For this reason, you'll need to pay close attention to what the employer has listed in the ad pertaining to the open position. Your cover letter needs to respond to those items listed, not just the open position. The first step in this article shows you how to do that and gain the interest of the hiring manager.
You'll also find the address and the name of the person to send your cover letter to. If there's no name listed, call the company and find out who the hiring manager is. It's always better to include a name on your cover letter rather than the generic, “Dear Sir or Madam”.
The most common reason that cover letters and resumés get pushed aside is because they don't relate to the skills needed for the open position. If the ad says they're looking for someone that's a team player and you respond by saying that you like to work independently, chances are you won't be considered for the position.
How do you write a cover letter in response to a published ad? Let's look at this step-by-step in order to create a cover letter that will get you noticed.
Step 1: Analyze the Job Ad
First things first: Read the job ad thoroughly several times in order to respond to the specific needs of the position. Jot down any specific skills that are mentioned in the ad. Jot down any other specifics that is mentioned such as experience in a particular area or knowledge of something. Now, think about your past and current positions and see where you can match your job skills and abilities to the ones mentioned in the ad. This is important in order for you to respond to the ad.
It's helpful to list the skills from the ad in one column and then list your skills and abilities that match in another column. This list of skills will help outline your cover letter.
Step 2: Mention the Ad
Your opening paragraph should begin by stating that you're responding to an ad. Mention the date and the newspaper or other medium where you saw the ad. This lets the hiring manager know that their paid advertising is working.
Your second sentence should suggest that you have the qualifications that were stated in the ad. This will draw immediate interest from the hiring manager.
Example: I am responding to your advertisement for a Sales Manager in the March 27th edition of the San Francisco Tribune. My experience and qualifications strongly support the requirements you are seeking for this position.
Step 3: Highlight Specific Skills & Abilities
In your second paragraph, you can respond by highlighting your skills and abilities that match those in the ad. Using a bullet format, briefly list 2-5 skills or abilities and include one or two that were not listed in the ad but are probably part of the position. For example, let's say the ad mentions that they need someone to increase productivity, has a proven track record, and experience as a Sales Manager. List your skills in relation to these mentioned skills first, then add one or two other skills.
Example: My enclosed resumé indicates several key accomplishments and examples of proven sales management experience that relates to the needs of the position in your ad:
Initiated new team building and organizational development programs resulting in a 75% productivity increase. (productivity increase)
Improved sales of commercial business 10% per year over an eight year period. (proven track record)
Over 18 years of experience in the sales field with an emphasis towards sales management. (experience)
Developed customer satisfaction programs that improved client relations. (additional skill)
The hiring manager should now be very interested in you as a candidate for the open position. You've just turned his/her interest into desire.
Step 4: State Your Interests or Goals and Turn Them Into Action
Now create a short paragraph letting the hiring manager know what you are looking for in your next job and your interest in the open position. It should look something like this:
My goals are to continue my career as a Sales Manager in a technical environment where the opportunity to demonstrate my sales and marketing skills will lead to overall business growth. I believe my background is an excellent match with your requirements for the Sales Manager position and I am very interested in discussing this position with you.
Step 5: Closing
Always thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read your documentation and list a specific phone number that you can be reached on.
Example: Thank you in advance for your consideration. I can be reached anytime on my cell phone at 555-777-8888.
After mailing out your cover letter and resumé, wait about two weeks before making a follow-up call to the hiring manager.
One more tip: When reading published job ads, keep in mind that many part-time positions may lead to a full-time position. If it's a company that you really want to work for or a position that you're very interested in, go for it. You never know where it may lead.