You have a story. Tell it.
Recently I was asked: “Do employers read cover letters?” Well it depends.
If you are sorted out by an applicant tracking system (APS), I doubt it. Smaller companies (less than 50 employees) might read your cover letter. To ensure your letter is read, ask the person who suggested the company to recommend someone to whom you should address your letter.
“Dear Mr. Smith, Jim Jones suggested I contact you,” will get read. So why is that important?
You have a story to convey to employers
Your story will reflect your values and your determination to be successful. How you present yourself will tell a lot about the way you conduct business. Employers hire people — not skills and experience. Let them know who you are.
But, like any good advertisement, you need a hook.
The first paragraph will cause them to finish reading the whole cover letter. Here are two examples of my clients and their cover-letter hooks. Both clients found employment quickly.
Donna: I was the center of attention in two fast-moving small companies. My responsibilities included: scheduling deliveries, maintaining inventories, tracking vending-machine activities, record keeping, training staff and trouble shooting. I loved it! To survive and thrive, I needed to be flexible and to be able to handle many different tasks.
Nikola: When I was very young, my father decided he needed to make repairs on the family car. Soon I was handing him tools while he developed new skills. Later, I developed my repair skills and he was handing me tools. I have always been interested in how things go together and how to make them work. I trained as an auto technician. Through work experience, I became a heavy equipment mechanic.
First impressions are definitely lasting. Your cover letter may be their first impression of you.