The best use of a cover letter
The cover letter should comprehend two important points:
- What your product can make for your customer (the company), and
- What your customer will need to do to buy your product.
If that sounds like marketing a meaningless subject, consider that many marketing people miss that point. They spend time telling about their "great" product, when they really should be concentrating on telling how it will benefit the customer.
If you do not have some idea how you can benefit that customer, then you may be wasting everyone's time (including your own) in even attempting a reasonable job search. You will most definitely fail any interview. Go back to square one and start over.
Ask any smart marketing person the following question: "What is your company's competitive advantage in the marketplace?" If that person is competent, you will get a quick and ready answer. You should also have a prepared answer to the very same question. You need to certainly understand and be able to articulate your personal value proposition.
If you don't know what differentiates you from the rest of the market, find out! Investigate your background and make note of the areas where you transcend. And make that your number one focus in writing the cover letter.
A basic formula for cover letters is as follows:
- Standard business letter address format-prospect name, title, company, address-top left.
- Salutation (yes, it should be to a real person-take time to know who your target is)
- First paragraph - why you are writing? To meet that company's specific need(s)!
- Second paragraph - briefly state two or three top skills (from the Summary section of your resume), then immediately follow with the benefits these features (and you as a person) will provide to the company.
- Third paragraph - close! Not just the ending of the letter, but the "sales closer" to the letter. Close the sale. Give your target contact a specific action to take and a backup action you will take if you do not get a response.