Over the years, I have reviewed many cover letters and I have learned a great deal about what motivates our audience.
The cover letter is more abstract. It focuses on our qualities rather than reiterating our accomplishments. While our résumé is the forum in which we demonstrate in concrete terms what we have done and how well we have done it, a well-crafted cover letter shows our reader who we are, what we stand for, why others have appreciated us, and how we can bring value to their company. It is more about our feelings, our commitment, our drive, and our interests. We might view the cover letter as our theorem and the résumé as our proof. In the cover letter, we tell them WHY we can be an asset to them. In the résumé we show how we have been an asset and brought value to our audience.
The cover letter and résumé should compliment each other. If done well they fit hand in glove and combine to make a powerful impression and impact.
Cover letters must be a call to action. They must motivate our reader to want to know more about us, to engage with us in an interview. Giving our reader insight to our personality, our relationship building skills, and reputation with colleagues and managers is an important hallmark of a winning cover letter. Remembering that the more our audience knows about us, the more likely they are to interview us, we wish to tactfully acquaint our reader with who we really are and what we are about.
When we create such impressions and impact, we are much more likely to be invited into the interview process. So pay attention to your cover letter content. It can mean the difference between a silent telephone and a winning interview.