Your cover letter, in combination with a winning resume, is your primary self-promotional tool and should reflect your main strengths as they apply specifically to the position you are interested in. The following are 15 ways to ensure that your application gets noticed!
- Be concise. Cover letters should be reasonably short and to-the-point. Generally 3 to 4 paragraphs will do to introduce yourself, state what position you are applying for, and why they should choose you. Recruiters almost always have a ton of applications to go through and do not have time to process long documents.
- Be creative. You would like to make an impression, without getting off topic. What makes you uniquely qualified for the job? Describe your skills in a way that brings them to life.
- Sell yourself. Show what you have to offer. Give clear examples of your past performance and what you are capable of at this point in your career.
- Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about the company, the position and the person they hope to hire, then explain exactly how you intend to benefit their organization using their own criteria. Show that you care enough to do this kind of investigating ahead of time.
- Use examples. Demonstrate how past experience and accomplishments could specifically benefit their organization.
- Show a little personality. You are giving a prospective employer a glimpse of the person behind the paper; try to give an accurate sense of who you are. How well do you fit into their corporate culture?
- Personalize. Try to address your letter to a real person; find out who is in charge of hiring, and/or their title. Once again, this kind of attention to detail will set you apart.
- Be professional. Maintain an appropriately formal format and tone.
- Use a writing style that is appropriate, yet distinctive. Do not be afraid to use humor in small doses if this reflects who you are, or if you have a particularly relevant anecdote.
- Customize. Write a different letter for each position, or at least modify the details to maximize your use of pertinent information.
- Attention to detail. Don’t skip important steps such as proof-reading, spell-checking, and including the date, position title, and your up-to-date contact information.
- Show some enthusiasm. Employers want to attract employees who will contribute positive energy to their work environments.
- Pay attention to the flow of your letter. Try to avoid beginning each paragraph with “I.” And keep paragraphs short.
- Show sincere interest, without excessive embellishment. Qualify your claims, showing how past experience demonstrates your dedication to a shared cause, etc.
- Be honest about your experience, not overly humble or exaggerating. You want to get the interview, but not only to have them discover that you are not who you claimed to be.
If you find this site helpful, please send a link to your career services department so your fellow alumni know about PharmBoard too! I've already written the message for you. :)