Happy National Pancake Day! Did you know that National Pancake Day and including a cover letter with your resume have much in common? Both represent something free that may also add value to your life and career.
Free pancakes at IHOP, what's not to like? And your cover letter? Think of it as free advertising for your resume and your value proposition. Some people argue that cover letters are dead. No one reads them anymore. Me? You give me a FREE chance to tell my story and why I am someone you NEED to speak with, and I will take that opportunity 10 times out of 10!
Sounds like a huge investment of time to draft a cover letter for each position to which you are applying. Wrong. Two things to note here:
If you are “spraying and praying” applying to multiple positions every day, then customizing the cover letter (and resume) for each opportunity would be difficult. But so is this “shotgun” job search method. The probability of success will be low. Instead, focus your search on a limited set of organizations and opportunities. Then you can invest the time to customize the cover letter (and resume) for each opportunity to stand out (and above) your competition.
Develop a baseline cover letter that you can quickly (in less than 15 minutes) and efficiently customize for each opportunity. I have a customization process and several cover letter templates that I detail in my job search guidebook.
Here are some "tasty" tips to help you craft a cover letter that is as delicious as your favorite pancake:
Use the right ingredients. Just like you wouldn’t use salt instead of sugar in your pancake batter, you shouldn’t use generic language in your cover letter. Tailor your cover letter to the specific job and company you are applying for. Highlight how your value proposition aligns with the role.
Don’t make it too thick or too thin. A good pancake has the right balance of thickness and fluffiness. A good cover letter has the right balance of length and content. Aim for one page or less, with three to four paragraphs that cover the main points: why you are interested in the job, why you are qualified for the job, and why you are a good fit for the company culture.
Add some flavor. A plain pancake can be boring, but a pancake with some toppings will be irresistible. A plain cover letter can be dull, but a cover letter with personality will be memorable. Don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm and genuine (well-researched) interest in your cover letter content. Use a friendly tone and avoid jargon or clichés. Make your cover letter stand out from the stack.
For even more tips on drafting a winning cover letter, check out my AdvantEdge blog and, specifically the post titled “Cover Songs, Cover Letters, and Three Ways to Stand Out in Your Job Search.”
And lastly, back to pancakes. If you ever find yourself on the eastern shores of Skaneateles Lake on the 4th Sunday of every June, July, and August, be sure to sample the Borodino Pancake Breakfast. Happiness is a Borodino pancake. And a well-written cover letter!
Dan Troup is the author of the job search guidebook Selling You: The AdvantEdge Job Search Process™ available through multiple channels in Paperback and eBook formats. He is also the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.