The cover letter is perhaps the most frustrating document to write in the entire history of getting a job. For most job seekers, the cover letter is a real mystery. Either you write one that is too wordy, too vague, or too short to have any real value. And do recruiters even read cover letters after you’ve gone to all that effort?
Why cover letters are important
The truth is, if a hiring manager asks for a cover letter or you are applying for a job that asks for a resume to be sent in, then you had better have an outstanding cover letter to accompany it. Why? Because cover letters are the visual introduction you send of yourself. Think of it as a fancy illustrated book cover of a novel (about you of course) that catches the eye of the employer and compels them to learn more. Now you are getting the idea about cover letters!
In terms of adding value to your cover letter, your job is to then write one that quantifies your career skills and achievements. The goal is to produce a cover letter that clearly demonstrates your value to the person reading it. To do this requires numbers.
Numbers? Where on earth will I get numbers for my cover letter?
You may be asking yourself this very question as you see to improve your cover letter. Before you freak out, consider that in every job there are measurements of your success. Have you read over a performance review or looked at financial reports for your company? These are called quantifiable results. This is what you need.
Quantifying your career achievements on your cover letter
Once you have written your introductory sentence on your cover letter, next set up a short bulleted list that shows off your quantified results. Making your cover letter show how well you’ve performed in terms of quantifiable matters includes:
- What percentage you have successfully accomplished your goals. Have you successfully met your performance goals and if so, to what percentile? For example, you could list something like, “Achieved a 95% satisfaction report from customers in 2013”.
- The numbers or dollar figures you’ve managed on the job. How much you can handle in terms of money, people, and things says something about you. Therefore, you will want to include this on your cover letter. Say something like, “Managed 300 clients for the past 3 years and handled the accounts receivables of $1.3 million reducing debts to less than 30 days”.
- How much revenue or growth you have acquired on behalf of the company. This is where many recruiters stand up and take notice. If you are a go-getter, then you think about ways to earn the company more money. State something like, “Successfully upsold to more than 75% of all my clients to generate an additional $500,000 per year in product sales”.
- Your average years of service at your employers. In an age where many people are job-hopping to beat the economic conditions, longevity and loyalty to your employers speaks volumes. Make sure you look at your longest tenure and average it against your other jobs. You could mention, “Averaged 5-8 years of employment at my professional jobs over the last 17 years as a [career title]”.
Developing a cover letter isn’t rocket science. It’s a simple matter of displaying in no uncertain terms how you measure up against others in your industry and how you stand out. Use the above tips to make your cover letter better than ever.
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