There are so many theories on how to create a resume cover letter and what to write in a resume cover letter which is a key weapon in your job search tool kit for sure, but there are many misconceptions. There are many articles, books, and templates on the internet on the subject, but many fail to show you HOW to write one, what to include, what NOT to include, and if you are over 50, you need to be more creative.
If you want to compete against those much younger, you must follow a proven path. Let me be clear, even if a resume cover letter is not requested, numerous recruiters and hiring managers want them as it helps them to measure your skills, experience, and background to all the other job applicants.
So, although it may not be asked for, doing more than what is being asked for by submitting a great impactful resume cover letter will help you stand out from the crowd, which others may not provide, and will show that you are going above and beyond, and also show that you are sincerely interested in the job.
Creating A Powerful Cover Letter, Why It Is Important?
Writing a well-written impactful cover letter for EACH job opportunity that you will be pursuing is a MUST and is expected.
It shows that you are being inattentive to details, and NOT sending one that specifically catered to that opportunity that you are pursuing, shows laziness and will be seen as a lack of caring.
The circumstance DO NOT matter! A cover letter is essential.
Employers and recruiters face the daunting task to screen hundreds (maybe thousands) of resumes for every job opening they have to recruit for.
Use this opportunity to help build your personal brand. Which is marketing yourself and illustrating the skills you bring.
Recruiters and prospective employers are looking for reasons, any reason, to trash resumes. To make their job manageable, they MUST narrow down candidates, and a poor cover letter or poorly written resume, regardless of your qualifications, will get trashed in a heartbeat!
Writing A Powerful and Attention-Grabbing Cover!
A well-crafted resume cover letter highlights and strengthens what is in the resume and explains why you are excited about the job and why you would be a valuable asset to the employer.
It also adds any noteworthy special items, certifications, or licenses and may also include your availability, education, special skills, or other qualifications that are important to note, and that you want to make sure are seen and not buried in the resume.
When writing the cover letter, I can NOT stress this enough!
DO NOT GET LAZY!!!
Would you be lazy when going on a long cross-country car trip can be disastrous? Not getting everything in order, not making sure you have enough gas, water, and food, not mapping out good resting stops, or not trying to account for every possible scenario, before you take off on that long drive, can turn into a very enjoyable activity, into a bad nightmare or even or a life-threatening situation.
Not paying close attention to your upcoming adventure, only leaves you open for bad things later on – the same holds for being lazy and not thinking out your resume cover letter.
If you were applying to a highly competitive position that requires a specialized license, you would want that brought early and highlighted, right? I would!
In addition, it is also hard to believe how many people do not have enough common sense to rename files they send with their name – “MGhibaudi.doc” and not “resume.doc”.
All these “small” details may seem very trivial to you, but when a recruiter or a hiring manager is trying to reduce and pick out the resumes that they WANT to read, you will be surprised at how these little things can get you rejected before the first word is even read.
Like being out on that long car drive, a job search is a time when you are out of your usual comfort zone and normal security. There are frequently no safety nets such as an administrative assistant to correct your spelling and check your grammar – so have a spouse or good friend proofread the letter and get an objective point of view.
The resume cover letter is the first and perhaps most important introduction to those that will be reading and reviewing candidates. This is all in your hands, so, do not get lazy and sell yourself short.
EVERYTHING that comes from you will ALWAYS be a reflection of you, and the quality of (or lack of) your work.
If you have failed to take the time to write “Dear Mike” or “Dear Mr. Ghibaudi,” shame on you. “Current occupant” or “Dear Sir or Madam,” when you should know the difference, does not reflect well on you or your candidacy and can be seen as another form of laziness.
Commit NOW to write a great resume cover letter, one that will make them WANT to call you!
Once again, I cannot stress this enough to PROOFREAD, and then have someone proofread you; you only have that ONE chance to impress, why blow it on a silly grammatical error?
What to Include and What NOT to Include
What you NEED include:
- ALWAYS address your letter to a specific person, not just a title or department (call the company receptionist if needed)
- Refer to the exact job (list title) you are applying for and include a reference number if one is given
- Describe why you’re uniquely qualified. Give relevant skills, experience, and accomplishments, but don’t simply repeat your résumé. This is a chance to sell yourself!
- Tell the employer something about yourself that is not listed or talked about on your resume
- Use proper keywords and industry “buzz” words or terminology and specifics from the job posting or recruiter
After you’ve written your cover letter draft…put it down and do something else to clear and reset your mind and thoughts for a few hours. Then proofread your resume cover letter several times for correct spelling and grammar, then give it to someone else who can proofread it and give you an honest unbiased opinion.
Also, when writing your resume cover letter let’s not forget the added challenge of age. The resume cover letter allows you to highlight our strengths, which will help minimize any age factor.
Emphasize results, accomplishments, and achievements.
List your accomplishments, any awards that you may have, or any articles that you may have written or co-authored. These all will help set you apart from other job candidates and perhaps will help give you a BIG advantage over younger applicants.
Things to AVOID at all costs:
- Don’t ramble or provide too much information! Three to four paragraphs is plenty, like a book cover you want to entice and NOT give away the whole story.
- Do not use basic third-grade language or grammar, tailor your letter to the specific position and reader.
- Don’t ramble or use filler language, such as, “I am writing to…” or “Let me introduce myself….”. Get right to your point.
- Avoid any references, terminology, or wording that may age you, rather than talk about your 30 or 40 years of experience, focus on your skills, how they were applied, and the outcomes as they relate to the position you are seeking.
- Save salary for during the interview process!
When crafting your resume cover letter tone down past job titles so you won’t seem overqualified. Instead of “vice president, list “senior manager”, or “experienced senior executive”.
It’s also important to show that you are eager and willing to invest in yourself to stay relevant and keep yourself up to date…so make sure you highlight any courses or professional-development activities that show you have kept up with modern technology at this point and that you are VERY comfortable using it.
Too many skills fall behind the times, so keep up with the times and invest in your skills and industry knowledge if you have not been doing so — you want to stay relevant!
When all is said and done…the final test is to honestly ask yourself if your letter makes the reader want to know more about you. If not, revise it until you have highlighted all the things that make you the best candidate for the job.
Remember that classic 30-second commercial and book cover comparisons!
Be bold and create a more creative resume cover letter that will GRAB the attention of the reader, much like an attention-grabbing headline, or an attractive exciting book cover.
Your resume cover letter is the best way to guarantee that your work experience and accomplishments don’t get lost and negatively impact the decisions of employers, recruiters, and hiring managers.
A Good Resume Cover Letter Format
Here is a good resume format that you can use to help get you started but follow the suggestions above and make this about you and not an easy way to get out of writing a resume cover letter.
(INSERT YOUR FULL FORMAL NAME)
1234 Any Street
Huntington, NY 11734
(INSERT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS)
Home: (INSERT YOUR HOME PHONE NUMBER)
Cell: (INSERT YOUR CELL NUMBER)
(INSERT DATE HERE)
Mr. John Burns
1234 Any Street
Huntington, NY 11734
Dear Mr. Burns:
It is with the utmost enthusiasm I would like to express my interest in the ______ (LIST ROLE) position with ______ (LIST COMPANY) that you are currently recruiting. I am a highly capable _______________(TITLE) professional seeking an employment opportunity in the _______________(FIELD) area. I have enclosed my resume for your consideration.
As you will note on the enclosed resume, the breadth of my expertise covers a wide range of progressive responsibilities. I am proficient at multi-tasking and applying myself to a wide variety of team roles and challenges, all of which make me an ideal candidate for this exciting role.
I am certain that I will be a valuable addition to your organization, and I feel strongly that my skills and experience _____ (LIST A FEW RELEVANT SKILLS, ACCOMPLISHMENTS, or ROLES) and background all enable me to be a trusted asset.
I hope to have the opportunity to discuss my extensive background with you in person (or via a video chat if that works better for you) – I am available for an interview at a mutually convenient time.
Thank you for your time, courtesy and consideration.
Michael A. Smith
LIST CELL OR CONTACT NUMBER BELOW YOUR NAME
When all is said and done…the final test is to honestly ask yourself if your letter makes the reader want to know more about you. If not, revise it, then revise it again until you have highlighted all the things that make you the best candidate for the job. Remember that 30-second commercial and book cover analogies!
Try being bold and create a more creative cover letter which is an effective way to GRAB the attention of the reader, much like an attention-grabbing headline, or an attractive exciting book cover.
It’s the best way to guarantee that your work experience and accomplishments don’t get lost and negatively impact the decisions of employers, recruiters (internal or external), and hiring managers.
Amazon has many amazing books, programs, and training materials that you can use in your job search – here are some tremendous materials and additional resources available to you at Amazon!
Questions? Is there something specific I can help you with?
This site’s success will hinge on me helping you solve problems. For those of us over 50, we face more challenges than others younger than us when competing for jobs and getting doors open.
I invite you all to share your stories of challenges and successes. We all can learn from those who have faced the same challenges. The idea here is to help and be helped – so please add your comment or insight!
6 thoughts on “How to Create a Resume Cover Letter”
Some great advice here. I am hoping I don’t need to write on of these very soon, as I hope to be doing what I am doing until I am old and grey, but this was a great read.
I never thought of the covering letter being the most important, but you are right, as it is the first thing that potential employers see, so you need to make it count.
I also love your advice about not listing your years of experience, but rather focusing on your skills and qualifications, as I don’t think someone would think of hiring someone with more than 40 years of experience in case they are too old.
Thank you for your comments and feedback. You are right, too many people do not place enough emphasis on the cover letter or do not even include one — which is a shame, as many employers and recruiters only read those in order to narrow down candidates.
I have learned about writing a good resume and cover letter in school, but most of it I had forgotten by now, so I searched on Google. I came across this blog post and it is very informative, thank you for that! The template that you provide is very useful as well, especially about wich information to include and it not being too long. As I need to go back at the job market after an absence of 5 years of taking care of my child, this will come in handy, thanks!
Thank you for the great feedback, Lizzy. I am so glad that you were able to glean some useful advice and hope you come back and visit soon!
I found this website both relevant and informative. I agree totally that a cover letter is essential for any future employer. I also found this information useful, tell them what you are capable of instead of how many years of experience you have. The one thing I find really difficult is selling myself, and picking out anything good to say about myself. The impression I give is of not being confident, which is not good in an interview situation. I guess I just overthink how could I do this job.
Selling yourself is perhaps one of the most difficult things one can do…as you don’t want to brag but do want to make sure the employer or recruiter FULLY understands the value that you bring to the table.
It’s useful to know how to sell yourself effectively to catch the attention of hiring managers and stand out from the competition.
Similar to a company’s services or products, you should promote and sell your skills to hiring managers. A short pitch can help you engage the employer and make a strong impression that they’ll likely remember throughout the hiring process.
An effective personal pitch of under should contain the following:
– The Problem: Show the hiring manager that you understand the needs of the company by stating a problem.
– The Solution: Tell the hiring manager why hiring you solves their staffing or other organizational problems.
– Know Your Unique selling proposition or USP: Briefly explain why you’re the best choice for the role.
– Hook: End with a memorable value proposition or another hook that will interest the hiring manager in learning more about you.
I hope this helps and thank you for your feedback and comments. This is such an important subject; I will be writing an article on this matter shortly — so stay tuned!