3 Things to Include in Your Cover Letter
Ah, the infamous cover letter. If you’ve decided to include one with your resume (good decision), the next question is what to include in the cover letter itself. Most cover letters people write are rife with generalities and ubiquitous phrasing that makes it very clear they’ve copied and pasted a template from a cheap website.
Your cover letter is the introduction to your resume, so basically, it’s the introduction to you. I want to give you 3 things to include in your cover letter that will make you stand out and help your reader understand your value to their organization.
1. An initiative or project from the organization that you’ve been impressed by or excited about. I’m not talking about sucking up here, but it’s always helpful to make it clear that you’ve been keeping up with the organization you’re applying to. Even better is showing that your passions align with the organizations'. Ex: “I am particularly excited about the community-driven atmosphere and socially responsible mission of Sales Direct and have enjoyed getting to read more about your current initiatives in the recent issue of Kentucky Magazine, especially your Sell Kentucky program.”
2. Bullet points. Now don’t go crazy here. You don’t want to bloat your clean cover letter with a million cluttered bullet points, but two or three well thought out bullets giving some of your most significant accomplishments can show the reader from the outset that you’re a producer with high standards who succeeds at a high level. Don’t just rehash things from your resume here, but it’s also not totally wrong to include resume material. Bullets also break up the monotony of paragraphs in your letter and draw your readers eyes to something specific. Also, don’t forget to quantify!
3. A clear follow-up action point. What are you doing in your cover letter? You’re introducing yourself and your resume and calling on your reader to consider you as a candidate and to follow up with further discussion about the position. Don’t just say something like, “I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have!” Instead, tell them what you want them to do: “I’m very excited to discuss this position further with you in person. In the meantime, feel free to follow up with any questions you may have.”
Cover letters can be persnickety. It can be really difficult to figure out what exactly to include. This list obviously isn’t exhaustive, but if you include these three elements and don’t mess up the rest too bad, you’re on your way to a unique cover letter that will keep your reader interested, draw them to your accomplishments, and lead them to take a further look at your resume.