The cover letter is the first thing which creates an impression of you; and if it is invisible then so are you. Your cover letter might as well be invisible if it doesn’t command the attention of the reader. If you follow the same tired old cover letter formula that so many people seem to want to hang on to then you’ll get the same result that they get. You go unnoticed and end up like Mr. Cellophane in the musical “Chicago”.
The way for your cover letter to be invisible is for it to be so similar to so many others that it simply doesn’t get seen. As a professional recruitment consultant I have viewed so many cover letter and CV combinations that it takes something different to catch my attention. When I receive maybe two hundred applications, the first few are greeted enthusiastically but this soon wanes when I keep seeing:
“Dear Sir or Madam
I wish to apply for the position as advertised in the Evening News on 25th March 2006.”
An opening like this becomes an invisible cover letter and I have to make a real effort to carry on reading and find out if there is a worthwhile application hidden under those words.Heck I need something to wake me up, something to excite my interest. If I’m not excited, how am I going to excite my client? If this is my first impression of the candidate, where do I go from there?
The objective of your cover letter is to get the recruitment consultant or prospective employer to read your details and act. You want them to call you for an interview. But these people are busy, very busy and soon forget the application that didn’t create an impact.
Your opening paragraph must command attention and create the interest. The most effective way of creating interest is by you yourself being interested in the job or position advertised. And the easiest way to do this is to say – “I am really interested in the job you have advertised” – then go on to tell them why you are interested. You further show your interest and enthusiasm by demonstrating your knowledge of their business.
Your second paragraph of your cover letter shows how you match their requirements and your final paragraph should be a positive, forward-looking close. Do pay attention to any specific requests, such as salary or re-location issues. This way you stand out to the reader as someone who is worth meeting. Someone who is interested and enthusiastic is much more attractive to have around and highly visible.
About the Author: Peter Fisher is Managing Director of Career Consulting Limited and provides expert help for career and performance management. www.career-consulting-limited.com