How to Get a Killer Resume Cover Letter
August 03, 2010
Do you enjoy writing resume cover letters about as much as you relish root canals? Dread isn’t uncommon when it comes to resume cover letters.
“It’s an area where job-seekers could do the most to improve, because it does require a certain amount of heavy lifting,” said Anna Ivey, a career counselor based in the Boston area. “Most people just write generic resume cover letters, and it’s the resume cover letter that’s really going to open or close that door, that will decide whether they [employers] bother to read on and look at your resume.”
But dread shouldn’t get the best of you. Instead, try thinking of resume cover letters as jalapeno peppers-small, but packing a wallop-and heed the following tips on how to write a cover letter from career experts Ivey, Laura DeCarlo, Bernadette Kenny and Deborah DeCamp.
How to Write A Cover Letter
1. Keep it short. Ivey suggests resume cover letters stick to one page, with about three paragraphs total. “Once you roll over onto a second page you’re really taking a risk,” Ivey said. DeCarlo, executive director of Career Directors International in Melbourne, Fla., said writing should be punchy and crisp. “Resume cover letters are a form of marketing. Make it easy for recipients to be interested and find what they’re looking for, and easy for them to find reasons to keep going,” DeCarlo said.
2. Draw the reader in immediately. The first paragraph of a resume cover letter should be an attention-grabber, DeCarlo said: Use an interesting fact, ask a question, or mention a personal connection to someone at the company. Learn how to write a cover letter that engages the reader.
3. Pack it with a “wow” factor. DeCamp, a Chicago-based regional director for Manpower Professional, said you create the wow factor by highlighting accomplishments on your resume cover letter. “You’re not just stating what you did in your last job, but what you achieved, created, that you saved the company money, blew out a budget, exceeded expectations,” she said.