The job market is pretty tight these days, and it can be really difficult to get a good job with all the competition out there. Usually though, if you can get past the "piece of paper" stage and get an interview where you're face-to-face with someone who can hire you, your chances go up quite a bit. Using the right techniques incorporating a cover letter can get you there.
That's right. I know of a way that's almost guaranteed to get you an interview, and it all has to do with your cover letter. There's a lot more to it than just your cover letter, but that single sheet of paper can make nailing that interview ever so much easier.
First step is of course to do some research on the company, before you even write your cover letter. You want to find out all you can about this place and the people who work there. Information is your best friend here, and having plenty of it at your disposal will work to your advantage in a number of ways.
Second thing is to write your cover letter, and make it a GOOD one. Your cover letter gives your potential employer a vital first impression of you, and as such it really needs to be flawless. This means:
- No spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes.
- No rehashing of your resume or extra personal information, keep it vital and relevant.
- Know who you're talking to, and make sure you address them appropriately to their position and gender.
- Avoid sounding desperate. Calm and professional, enthusiastic about working for them … that's what YOU want and what THEY want.
A great item of value that you'll get from your research is that you should know exactly who at the company has the power to snap his / her fingers and say "you're hired!" That's the person you should address your letter to, and the person who should get it sitting on his / her desk without any side stops at Human Resources.
Being a single envelope on the desk of a higher-up is much more likely to get you noticed and paid attention to than being a single envelope in a stack of hundreds down at Employment. When you get directly in front of someone who really matters in the great scheme of things, you can work your magic and nail that interview.
In your cover letter, do not just say "I look forward to your response, please contact me to set up a date for an interview." That's passive and, honestly, lazy. It gets you now. What you WANT is "I'll call your offices at 11:00 AM on Tuesday of next week to set up an appointment for an interview." It's strong, assertive, and proactive. Businessmen and employers LOVE that in their employees. It's probably the best way possible to get yourself noticed.
You always run the chance that you fail to snag an interview, but that makes rarer and rarer as you get into the hang of getting them set up yourself rather than trusting to the bosses to contact you. Very soon, you'll find yourself sitting in front of somebody who can decide whether or not you work for their company.
When you get to this point, that pre-coverletter research pays off again. Knowing what you're talking about and how you can be the best candidate for the job is gold in an interview, and it should help you do better in any interview and have a way higher likelihood of impressing them and getting that job.