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Struggling with Your Cover Letter? Here’s How to Write an Effective One

September 12th, 2017

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that many candidates struggle with cover letter writing. And for good reason. Most don’t know where to begin, let alone what to include in theirs. So they end up regurgitating their resumes, or pulling a boilerplate letter from the Internet and swapping out details for their own.

But in today’s competitive job market, that’s not the way to get hired. Instead, when you’re trying to write your cover letter, but get stuck with the process, follow this format instead:

The Beginning.

  • Your contact information should be at the top of your resume. That way, hiring managers don’t have to search through your application, resume and cover letter for it. It’s front and center.
  • In terms of the greeting, if you don’t have the name of the hiring manager, and can’t find it despite your best efforts, it’s ok to address the letter “To whom it may concern” or “Dear hiring manager.”
  • In the first paragraph, you need to grab the attention of the hiring manager, and also make it clear you’ve done your homework and understand what they do.
  • If you were referred to the job by a mutual contact, then this also a good place to drop their name.

The Middle.

In the rest of the body of the letter, keep in mind you’re trying to highlight why you’re the best fit for the job. The most effective way to do this is to talk about a past project or accomplishment that’s most relevant to the position. For instance, if you mentioned you increased sales by 10% in a past position on your resume, your cover letter is the ideal place to further explain how you went about doing that and what impact that had on the company. Whenever possible, use numbers.

The End.

The ending of the letter is the place to reaffirm your interest and enthusiasm for the role. It’s also a good place to thank the hiring manager for their time.

A few other tips:

  • Your cover letter should be short and sweet, and less than one page.
  • It should be formatted in a way that makes it easy to read, with a good size font and plenty of white space.
  • If you have an online portfolio or work samples, you can also provide a link in your cover letter.

Your cover letter is your chance to shine. It’s important that you not only highlight the skills and abilities that make you unique, but how you can contribute to the potential employer’s bottom line. You also need to come across as a real person, not a robot, with some energy and passion.

If you’re still having trouble with your cover letter, give Provisional a call.

As one of the leading employment firms in Spokane, WA, we can help you with every step of the job search process, from resume and cover letter writing to job leads and interviews. Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

6 Cover Letter Secrets Every Candidate Needs to Know

April 18th, 2017

If you’re like most job candidates, you dread writing cover letters. What are you supposed to say that’s not already discussed in your resume?

While writing a cover letter can feel like a pointless exercise, it’s not. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, Provisional knows that hiring managers do read them and they’re actually an opportunity to promote yourself – and why you should get the job. To help you put together one that gets results, consider these tips:

#1: Don’t rehash your resume.

The cover letter shouldn’t be a duplication of your resume. Instead, it should be used to explain something new about yourself that your resume doesn’t showcase. For instance, if you’ve used the company’s products and services – and are a fan – then you can explain why you’ve always wanted to work there. In fact, telling a story is a powerful approach for cover letter writing.

#2: Focus on facts, not fluff.

Don’t make statements, such as “I’m a top-notch candidate best suited for this position.” You don’t know that; other candidates could be stronger or better suited. Instead, stick to facts about your background and the value you can bring to the potential employer.

#3: Be real.

Don’t be overly formal or use corporate jargon in your cover letter. When you do, you wind up sounding more like a robot than a real person. Also, don’t copy and paste a boilerplate cover letter and simply swap out the company and hiring manager’s name. They’ll know in an instant. Instead be professional, but also warm and engaging with your tone and language.

#4: Talk about what you can do for the employer.

Your cover letter shouldn’t be all about you. It should be about how you can help the company succeed, whether it’s through increased sales, more efficient processes, or shaping better policies. You may need to re-read the job posting to get a better sense of how your background and skills can contribute to the company’s bottom line.

#5: Use numbers and statistics.

Hiring managers want to see real results – in the form of dollars, percentages and statistics. So brainstorm an accomplishment that you can quantify and talk about it in your cover letter, including how you approached the problem and the results you were able to achieve.

#6: Expect to re-write it a few times.

No one gets their cover letter right the first time. Expect to write a few drafts and then revise it many times before it hits the mark. Also, make sure to proofread it plenty of times before sending it out to potential employers. That way you can rest easy it’s well-written and error-free.

Need more help with your cover letter, resume or job search?

Call the experts at Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we’ve placed more than 8,000 professionals with leading local employers since 1994. From writing your resume to getting interviews and offers, we can help you with every aspect of your job search, start to finish. Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

Why Do I Need a Cover Letter?

May 27th, 2014

As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, candidates continually ask us this question. To them, it seems like a waste of time. But to a hiring manager, a cover letter is still an important tool in assessing you as a candidate.

Think of it this way:

Whom would you rather interview? The candidate who sends a compelling cover letter offering unique information and details about why they are a good fit for the position? Or the candidate who just sends a resume?

A cover letter is the first impression a hiring manager will have of you. If you don’t send one, then their perception of you won’t be as positive when compared to another candidate who sends along a great one.

To help you, here are a few secrets to a great cover letter:

Skip the boilerplate.

Too many candidates submit cover letters that look and sound like everyone else’s. But the key to an effective cover letter is to be human and let your personality shine through. Hiring managers want to hire real people with diverse experience, not some automaton who blasts out the same cover letter they copied from the Internet to every employer.

Sell what makes you unique.

Another mistake candidates make in cover letters is to focus on themselves – what they’re looking for in a job opening. Instead, you need to place that focus on the employer and sell your unique fit. In other words, what about your background is going to make the hiring manager want to bring you in for an interview?

Keep it simple.

Your cover letter doesn’t need to be three pages long in 9-point type. In fact, if you submit a letter like that, it will likely wind up in the trash. Instead, keep it brief and simple. A few paragraphs on one page will do. Also be sure it’s formatted in a way that makes it easy to read.

Show your passion.

Tell the employer why you’re excited about the position. Whether you’ve been a fan of the company for a long time, or you’ve heard great things about the employer, communicate why you want to work there. This is the kind of information that doesn’t belong on your resume, but is perfect for a cover letter.

Cover letters can be a hassle to write. But skipping out on one isn’t an option if you really want the job.

Need more help with your job search? Call Provisional. As one of the top employment agencies in Spokane, WA, we’ve placed more than 8,000 employees with leading local employers since 1994. And we can help you find a new job too!

Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.

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