#YourLaunchPlan – Fresh Start & Plumtree Financial have joined forces to provide recent college graduates with a roadmap for professional advancement and financial independence. The nice house and corner office don’t just happen overnight. You need a plan to get from here to there. We can help. Here is the 2nd excerpt from our eBook, ‘5 Universal Truths for Recent Grads” A Step-By-Step Guide for Professional Development & Financial Freedom”.
FIRST TRUTH: OWN IT – DON’T LET LIFE HAPPEN TO YOU
GET THE JOB: 5 TIPS TO MAKE YOUR COVER LETTER
In last week’s article, we covered the resume – a concise, value-driven marketing document focused on the reader (hiring manager) and his/her pain points. This week, our topic is the cover letter, the resume’s often overlooked side kick.
Do people actually read it? Or is it just a dreaded, time-consuming part of the application process? Why even bother?
Because it’s part of YOUR professional brand. In order to make a positive and lasting impression, it’s important to be unique, dynamic, and consistent across your branded documents. The cover letter is the employer’s 1st glimpse of you and what you can offer them. (Remember, it’s not about you! Oh, the irony.)
True – not everyone reads the cover letters; recent polls confirm that only 50-60% do so. Of these cover letter aficionados, approximately half actually read the resume FIRST! There’s no way to know this ahead of time, so it is best to err on the side of caution. A thoughtful and thoroughly researched cover letter can be the deciding factor in whether or not you move on to an interview!
What is a Cover Letter?
It’s a marketing tool that introduces your resume to the hiring manager … it’s an ‘appetizer’ for the ‘main course’ that will (hopefully) get you to the next step.
Usually a 1-page document consisting of 3-4 brief paragraphs, the cover letter sets a conversational (yet professional) tone, while providing new, specific details that are relevant to the targeted position. It shouldn’t be a canned, impersonal form letter and it shouldn’t be a regurgitation of the information on your resume. So, what are the essentials?
5 Tips for an Effective Cover Letter:
- Keep the same font and size as the resume for brand consistency. Use the same format for contact information (and tag line if you have one).
- Convey genuine enthusiasm and interest in the position. Imagine yourself already in the role.
- Avoid the cliché, “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” if possible. A little networking and social media research (LinkedIn, Google, Twitter) go a long way. If you are able to track down the name and email of the decision maker, it demonstrates your willingness to go the extra mile.
- Research the company and reference current events or recent press releases. A great place to start is the company website’s media tab. Or Google it. You can also ‘follow’ the organization on LinkedIn; anytime it’s mentioned in the news, it will appear in your feed.
- Double check spelling and grammar. Get a 2nd set of eyes to proofread for you. (This goes for the resume and LinkedIn profile as well.)
Stay tuned for the next excerpt arriving to your social media feed next week!
Kate Madden, MBA, CPRW is the founder of the Fresh Start brand – Fresh Start Resumes (writing service) & Fresh Start Careers (staffing agency). She is an award-winning certified professional resume writer whose work is featured in 2 books: ‘Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed …Get Hired” and ‘Modernize Your Job Search Letters”. To learn more about Fresh Start, visit Fresh Start Resumes, Fresh Start Careers.
Beth D’Andrea, CFP, is the founder of Plumtree Financial Planning. She is a Certified Financial Planner® with over 20 years of industry experience. Beth provides top quality, independent, fee-only guidance to motivated individuals and families who wish to reach their financial goals. Everyone needs a well thought out financial plan. Visit Plum Tree Financial Planning for more information.