Cover letters are a professional introduction to your resume. They enable you to showcase your communication skills and provide a glimpse of your personality. Some employers won’t even consider a resume that is not accompanied by a cover letter. Therefore, all resumes should be sent with a cover letter.
There are four steps to writing an effective cover letter. The first consideration is the heading and salutation. Your cover letter’s heading should be the same as your resume. If using a template, be sure to update the company name/address and change the date. Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person. If you don’t have a specific contact name, use Attention: Hiring Manager.
The first paragraph of the cover letter is critical to making a positive first impression. This paragraph should attract the reader’s attention. Be specific as to why you are writing and succinctly demonstrate your research of the company. Include a short summary of why you are a good candidate for the job. Capture the attention of the reader and avoid the “form letter” approach.
Instead of saying “I am writing in response to your advertisement in the newspaper” start with “Customer service can be defined as taking care of your customers, their needs and desires, in a professional and courteous manner. This describes my customer service philosophy and therefore I believe I am an excellent candidate for the Account Manager position with your company.”
The second paragraph offers your chance to sell your skills. This is the part of the letter that contains the sales pitch. Outline the top reasons you are worthy of an interview. Focus on why you are qualified for the position with specific examples of accomplishments.
The closing paragraph should never close on a passive note. Tell the employer when you plan to follow up. Express an interest in the position and the company. Always thank them for taking the time to consider your qualifications.
Ensure your cover letter is free from spelling and grammar errors. Don’t overuse the word “I.” Remember the letter should highlight how you can benefit the company. Keep your letter short and simple, never longer than one page, preferably no more than four paragraphs. Always personally sign the letter when sending by mail or fax.
Most human resources expert agree; all resumes should be sent with a cover letter. The cover letter is another opportunity for you to demonstrate how your military skills will easily translate into a civilian career.
There are five steps to writing a military transition cover letter. The first step is the heading and salutation. Your cover letter’s heading should be the same as your resume. If using a template, be sure to update the company name/address and change the date. Write the date in civilian terms. Do not use the military method of writing dates; this will further demonstrate you are committed to your transition.
You have been taught to be formal and respectful in the military. However, in the civilian world you should just be professional. Whenever possible, address the letter to a specific person. If you don’t have a specific contact name, use Attention: Hiring Manager.
Second is your introductory paragraph. Capture the reader’s attention with your years of experience or by showing the transferability of your military skills. Start with a strong statement such as “If you are seeking an experienced leader who motivated a team of ten recruiters to continually exceed their goals by as much as 50%, then I believe I am an excellent candidate for the Sales Manager position.”
Next, focus on the middle paragraph, which provides your sales pitch. This paragraph highlights your transferable skills, qualifications, and accomplishments, and should be written in civilian terminology. Avoid military terms and acronyms. Refer the reader to your enclosed resume.
If you are retiring from the military, do not use the word retired in your cover letter. This brings up negative connotations and may impact your future salary negotiations. Instead, simply state you have enjoyed a successful career in the United States (insert military branch).
The last paragraph of your resume is your closing paragraph. Never close a cover letter on a passive note. Don’t be afraid to ask for an interview. Tell the employer when you plan to follow up, express your interest in the position and the company, and thank them for considering your qualifications.
Military transition cover letters have one final step ? demilitarization! Go through the document to ensure that you have translated or removed all the military terms and acronyms. Have someone who is not affiliated with the military read your cover letter and provide their opinion before sending it out.