To Get Your Next Job interview, Craft a “Value-Added” Cover Letter.
Career management guru and author Barbara Safani has written plenty about how to craft dynamic résumés. Her book Happy About My Résumé also has some unique and valuable advice on writing the cover letter for your résumé, which can help put yours into the job interview pile for that coveted executive security job.
Stefani’s tips for creating that cover letter include:
- Address the letter to the hiring authority by name. You may have do some digging, by surfing the company’s website for example, but adding the personal touch quickly establishes the rapport you’re looking to create.
- Keep your cover letter to one page. Stefani suggests short paragraphs and bulleted lists to maintain the reader’s attention.
- Specifically reference the position you are applying for. Mention the title of the job and any job number information somewhere in the body of your letter. Remember that the hirers often specifically ask for this information, so leaving it out could jeopardize your getting the interview.
- Use a subject line that grabs attention. When e-mailing a résumé, Stefani advises, you are more likely to grab the hirer’s attention with a “memorable subject line” such as “Don Walker Award Recipient for Enterprise Security Executive Leadership.”
- Open your cover letter with a statement that is compelling. Instead of starting off with a reference to the position, say something that aligns you with the hiring organization. An example would be to discuss an industry-wide problem and show how you are part of a solution.
Example: ”For the past 12 months we in the security field have become increasingly alarmed over the growing sophistication of corporate security threats. Those threats, unfortunately, are even greater with the increased technological sophistication among international criminal elements. My 20 years’ experience in corporate security have…”
- Minimize the use of the word “I.” Stefani suggests varying your sentences to keep the reader engaged and the writing style fluid. Go for a conversational tone that continually seeks to establish a connection with the reader.
- Mention how well your qualifications actually match the job requirements. Stefani suggests that the cover letter address each job requirement point by point. Here is where you insert your “value added” information: Highlight your past contributions and accomplishments. Do a good job on this and you’re more likely to get the interview.
- Ask for the interview. This seems obvious, but it is surprising how many job applicants leave that out. You’ll need to “create a strong call to action” with a sincere expression of interest in the company and a request for a face-to-face interview.
- Don’t forget to sign your name. Some applicants actually forget this important detail. You’ll need to include your handwritten signature if you’re mailing your cover letter and résumé. If by e-mail, include an electronic signature.
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