Cover letters should boost your credentials and persuade the recruiter to read your resume. Make each letter a unique piece for specific employers. Choose your words carefully because you have less than 20 seconds to grab the recruiter’s attention before your entire package is moved to the circular file.
Use the first paragraph to highlight your success. According to Quintessential Careers, you shouldn't waste it on meaningless sentences that say why you’re writing the letter; the recruiter knows why you’re writing. Grab attention by including numbers in one of your first sentences. Big numbers, such as “increased sales by 50 percent” or “brought in $1 million in new business,” will cause the reader to take notice and read on to find out what else you did, how you got there and what she needs to do to get you on her team.
Identify one of the most exciting things about your career, your training or your achievements, and mention it at the beginning. “I won the top chef award at the city bake-off” or “I was named employee of the year for three years in a row” tells the recruiter that he has the chance to recruit a winner. Past awards and recognitions are important indicators of future success. By leading with a huge achievement, you immediately set yourself apart from other candidates.
Grab the recruiter’s attention by mentioning a name he will immediately recognize. Use the company owner’s name if you’ve spoken to her and were told to apply for the position. Saying “Joan Smith suggested I talk to you about the opening you have in your accounting department,” will make the hiring manager take notice. Other names that could be influential will get attention. Talk to industry experts, association leaders, and prominent community leaders about a referral and mention their names early in the cover letter. Additionally, advisers at Columbus Technical College recommend mentioning your relationship with the referral if it’s relevant.
Turn Headlines into Sentences
Create sentences that read like headlines to grab attention. Begin each paragraph with a bold sentence, such as “I believe that I’m perfect for the job because of my extensive experience in the field” or “The top three reasons to hire me include my persistence, my loyalty and my industry knowledge.” “My secrets of success include extensive industry contacts, a thirst for answers and an easy going personality,” is a statement that will draw recruiters to read more and could lead into your background highlights. Follow up the headliners with a sentence or two about the awards and qualifications that aren’t in your resume.