How to Write a Cover Letter that Gets Interviews

Your resume may be good, but prospective employers take a look first at your cover letter. This is the moment that decides if you can convince prospective employers to read your resume and to invite you for an interview.  So what gives with a cover letter?  A cover letter is a brief letter yet your major selling point.  Hence, it must be well presented without sounding like a book; it must be brief but must contain the information that would sell you.  It should be professional in tone, free from typos and embarrassing grammatical errors and obvious erasures.       

How do you make sure that your cover letter gets the attention of the reader?    The trick is making your cover letter an interesting read without going overboard or sounding unprofessional.  There are many ways to grab a reader's attention.  The first is to make the opening sentence very attractive.   It could be a question or a generalization that is related to the job you are seeking.  One job applicant dared to start a letter with an apology and it went this way - "I am sorry that you have to go through a lot of cover letters before reading mine, but it would be the company's advantage to review my qualifications because I have the skills you need."  Now that really gave the reader something to think about after reading a pile of job application letters. 

Starting a letter with the usual opening does help make your letter stand out.  Your cover letter has to stand out if you want to get that interview.  An interesting opening sentence, with a good resume warrants the applicant an interview.  The interviewer would like to know more about you, hence that coveted interview, which is the step that would take you nearer to your goal.  Your cover letter should also be short.  The person who reads this has no time to dawdle bored to death with all those letters that sound alike.

Don't be a bore with your letter, use bullet points to break the reading monotony and remember that the reader immediately scans towards the information he or she is seeking. Before finalizing your cover letter check it out.  Does the letter sell your abilities/skills? Does it contain your contact number?  Is the important information at the top of the letter?  Are there spelling errors or typos?  Does it look neat? Your letter should not take an entire page - the resume will provide the other information.  Check and double check because you might the job of lifetime for careless omissions and glaring mistakes.

The cover letter is your personal touch and your sales pitch.  As you write your cover letter, think about the impact of the words you use to describe yourself and of course your qualifications.  Always include a significant work experience and activities that you think the company would appreciate.  Tip, if the job description requires a particular skill, and you have been awarded a certificate for it then flaunt this on your cover page. As they say, if you have it flaunt it but be smart enough to limit your sales pitch to the deciding factor - a skill that the hiring company want and do include what your skills can do for the company.  You can bet on it, the company will be calling you for an interview.


Gail Esparan