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Cover Letter Essentials

We hear it all the time. IF your cover letter get’s any time at all, it’s about eight seconds on average.

So what are your options for your cover letter? You either have to give the reader some kind of value in the eight seconds that you have their attention, OR the value they see immediately captures their attention to buy you more time, or (even better) sends the reader to look at your résumé.

It’s my opinion and experience that the purpose of the cover letter is to take the reader to your résumé. The purpose of your résumé is get your reader to give you a call. For me, it’s that simple. The cover letter template at Forward Motion has several other functions, but from the perspective of the Human Resource Professional, it has to capture their attention and send them to the résumé.

From my research, most Human Resource Professionals routinely throw cover letters away, and frankly, I have only rarely found a manager that has seen one. So that brings up another critical point: If the cover letter gets little, if any attention, then the content must also be presented on the résumé—otherwise it’s lost.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use a concise and direct format.
  • Make specific reference to the job posting and its source.
  • Keep it short—you get about 8 seconds.
  • Present a fast compelling reason for the reader to look at your résumé.

Please consider a Forward Motion Workshop. HR Professionals LOVE our cover letters. In one case, they even passed it on to the Hiring Manager and didn’t bother with the résumé…nice!

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