If you're not getting interviews, then perhaps your cover letter is to blame. Even if your resume is put together extremely well, a bad cover letter will knock you off the candidate list. The cover letter is your first impression; it is your sales pitch. You have one page to show your interest in the company, showcase your experience and convey that you are the right fit for the organization.
Make it Sizzle
You want to write something that is different from the hundreds of other letters the hiring manager receives. Start with a power sentence, your hook, to really grab the reader's attention. For example, if you are applying to manage a company's blog, start with, "After winning two Hearst Awards for writing, I am confident I can boost your blog readership." Avoid using cliches and stick with an accomplishment, an award or a skill in which you excel.
You are answering the question, "Why should I meet you?" You must sell yourself, your skills and your accomplishments to the reader. Stick with action words that are clear and concise. Instead of saying, "I was in charge of six people," say "I supervised a team of six service employees." Action words are powerful, effective and convincing. Don't be afraid to be different; talk about your qualifications and background that set you apart from the competition.
Write with emotion. Talk about how much you love the industry and what you'd like to do to contribute. Research the company and praise its work, awards or anything else that interests you. Talk about your passion for your work, your pride in your projects and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you see a project to completion. This will set you miles ahead of the other letters that read robotic, canned or disinterested.
Avoid using too many "I" sentences, exclamation points, weak words and generic statements like "I am hard working." Every statement should be backed up with an example proving your point. Show enthusiasm, intelligence and sincerity. You don't want to provide a laundry list of qualifications because your resume does that. Instead, think of your cover letter as a means to "wow" the reader with your personality and accomplishments. Even so, keep it short and to the point.
Lisa Hope is a professional writer and entrepreneur. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism, specializing in online media, and a master's in mass communications specializing in social media, both from the University of Florida. She is a professor of communications, a novelist, and the founder of a firm that specializes in resume review.