In my last post, we discussed the first six “best practices” for a winning cover letter. Unfortunately, the cover letter is often an afterthought However, the cover letter is a very important part of the resume, giving the first impression an employer will have of you. Following is a list of the second six “best practices” that your cover letter must and/or in some cases must not reflect.
Use good grammar with all words spelled correctly. This best practice almost goes without saying. I guarantee that many resume readers will immediately set aside a resume or cover letter that has misspellings or poor word usage. Unfair? No. We live in a time when people at all organizational levels are expected to be able to communicate verbally and in writing. Use spell check and have someone else review your resume and cover letter for you.
Demonstrate that you are ready for and enjoy a challenge. Many jobs worth doing these days are challenging. Resume readers are not just looking for candidates with solutions to problems (see Part 1) but also candidates who thrive in such conditions. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, but a display of quiet confidence is a good thing.
Personally sign letters to be posted via U.S. mail. Use pen with contrasting ink with pleasing color. These small personal touches communicate that you value this job opportunity and took some extra time to show it. Use of black ink may get lost in the other black print. A nice shade of blue ink on your signature causes it to stand-out nicely.
Indicate how and when you will follow-up. Rather than simply “dropping off” your resume and cover letter, when you state a follow-up date, it shows that you are organized and intentional. Whether you intend to call, send an email or regular letter, indicate it accordingly.
Send unsolicited cover letters and resumes early in the week. Traditionally, resumes flow in greater quantities early in the week because people have time over the weekend to devote to job search activity. People inside hiring organizations budget their time to handle the surge of resumes early in the week. Therefore, time your mailing to effectively take advantage of a resume reader’s time and attention.
Print each letter individually. Please resist the temptation to mass-print your letters when sending paper copies. Print them on good paper and show care in how they are folded (or not) and placed in an envelope. This extra care will help prevent mistakes in sending letters and once again showcases extra effort and attention to detail.
With these 12 tips you can write an effective cover letter for your next resume.