Writing a cover letter for a resume is one of those things that people seem to struggle with year after year. You have spent hours writing the perfect resume, but the perennial problem remains; “How do I make a cover letter for my resume?”
Writing a cover letter perfectly suited for you isn’t actually that hard if you follow the BUST system. BUST stands for being bold, unique, specific and technical. These requirements apply to all types of cover letters, whether you are writing a general cover letter, a letter of inquiry or a networking letter you will want to apply the below tactics to your writing to
Simply follow this system and you will have no problem building the cover letter you have always dreamed of.
1. Be Bold: Make It Clear Why You’re Contacting Them
What does being bold have to do with a cover letter? Simple. Being bold means grabbing the reader’s attention and making an impression. Being bold will get your name remembered; your resume put in the “request interview” pile and ultimately put you ahead of the competition.
Hiring Managers are busy individuals and waiting to declare the purpose of your letter until the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th paragraph puts your cover letter and resume in jeopardy of being neglected.
A bold cover letter will start with something along the lines of this: “My name is John Smith and I would formally like to apply to the position of [insert job position]. Below I summarize my unique qualifications that make me the perfect applicant for [insert company name].”
“My name is John Smith and I would formally like to apply to the position of [insert job position]. Below I summarize my unique qualifications that make me the perfect applicant for [insert company name].”
There is not beating around the bush in that opener, no sir. (view more examples of professionally written cover letters) Now, for the next step, setting yourself apart from the rest of all the other phonies out there.
2. Be Unique: Explain Why They Should Hire You Over Everyone Else
Every cover letter on earth will begin with a formal address of “Dear Mrs. Smith,” Most cover letters will then proceed with the above declaration of interest. After this however things begin to change. After the opening paragraph, within the body of the cover letter is where you stand out as an applicant, where you must strive to be unique.
So what is entailed exactly in being “unique”? Well first things first, never, ever send the exact same cover letter to every job you apply to. Generally, this is one of the most common mistakes job hunters make with their cover letters each position is different and the job posting will state different desired qualities and skill sets.
There are a few select situations where you may use the same cover letter, for example if you are applying as a cashier at McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys. But for most professional jobs you wont’ be able to get away with such simplicity.
Here is an example of statement that follows the introduction that shows that this cover letter was written specifically for this resume and this job position: “I believe to be fully qualified for the role of International Sales Representative for Acme Packaging Corporation given my 6+ years of growth within the Sales industry and my bilingual fluency in both English and Spanish.”
“I believe to be fully qualified for the role of International Sales Representative for Acme Packaging Corporation given my 6+ years of growth within the Sales industry and my bilingual fluency in both English and Spanish.”
Obviously you cannot use any part of this paragraph at a different company for a different position, this was written specifically for Acme Packaging Corporation, highlighting specific desired skills for the position.
3. Be Specific: Don’t Dilute Your Message With Fluff
Unlike this entire blog post explaining cover letters, YOUR actual cover letter should be straight to the point, concise and direct. Don’t ramble on about your passions or quirky additional skills, no sir, the cover letter is a place of business plain and simple.
Don’t be a fool and not bother to lookup the name of the person you are contacting. Just like when you receive an email in your personal Gmail or yahoo account that isn’t addressed to you but instead a “Sir” or “Madam”, HR Managers will not give it the same attention as a message addressed to them by name.
Secondly, don’t beat around the bush. This isn’t chitchat hour at the bowling alley; you are trying to find employment, income, and work. The person reading your cover letter isn’t doing so because they have a passion for cover letters. They are getting paid to be efficient, to screen dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of applicants and find the very best one for the job.
So, as mentioned in the second section, after your introduction get straight to the point explaining why you are qualified for the position. Follow this up with a few concise paragraphs or a series of key bullet points or both.
Now that the meat of your cover letter is done, it’s time to look it all over and fine-tune it to be as sharp and potent as it could possibly be. This requires getting technical.
4. Be Technical: Communicate You Have The Skills They Need
Just writing a unique resume for a unique job position isn’t enough to win the job. Even if you are fully qualified for the position, spelling or grammar errors could still spell catastrophe for your cover letter and attached resume.
By sharing your cover letter and resume you are trying to eliminate not just spelling errors but sentences or phrases that don’t sound quite right.
After reviewing your cover letter to make sure it is grammatically sound go through and consider the number of “keywords” contained throughout the document. A keyword is a word of special significance, in this case, they are words that applicant tracking systems (ATS) search for when processing large volumes of documents.
ATS systems are usually used at larger corporations that receive a high volume of applications on a consistent basis. If applying to a small business you needn’t worry so much about ATS but should still make sure if the job vacancy stresses “leadership” or “management experience” that these keywords also appear in both your cover letter and your resume at least once (per document).
If you follow the complete B.U.S.T system detailed above you should be able to write a cover letter to go with your resume in no time. Remember, it may require a little time investment now to optimize both your resume and cover letter for each job you apply to, but when you factor in what is at stake, years worth of salary, the extra time now could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. Don’t cheat yourself out of an opportunity, optimize your cover letter today!
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