You should put the same effort into your cover letter as you do your resume. By implementing the following easy steps, you will ensure that your cover letter stands out just as much as your resume.
Don't state lies or half-truths
It is rumored that a large number of applicants lie when applying for a position. For this reason, decision-makers scrutinize information provided in cover letters, resumes, and interviews by asking pointed questions during the interview or conducting thorough reference checks.
If you do lie and get away with lying or providing half-truths, you will always be walking on eggshells wondering when the truth will be uncovered. It's not worth it.
However, there is something you can do. If you lack the qualifications the hiring organization is looking for, take note of the reasons why you want to work for the hiring organization and make mention of your desires in your cover letter. You'd be surprised how many hiring decisions are made based on the level of the candidate's enthusiasm and not on technical skills.
In addition, you can take care to emphasize what you do have to offer. Focus your letter on the skills, knowledge, and abilities that you do possess, and wow the interviewer with your past accomplishments.
How to address the salary question
You may find that some job ads include a statement that reads similar to this: "Only resumes with salary requirements will be considered for the position." It's understandable that when reading such a firm statement as this, you feel compelled to include your salary information in your cover letter.
But before you go ahead and offer that information, consider the facts. Only 3% of employers who ask for salary requirements actually disqualify candidates for not providing them. With those odds, it's best to hold off salary discussions for the interview, and instead focus your cover letter on what you want the reader to know about you.
Even with those odds, some of you may not consider yourselves risk-takers (no matter how low the risk) and will want to address the salary issue head on. If you choose this route, provide a generic sentence such as "Salary is negotiable and depends on the responsibilities of the open position. I'm sure that if there is a fit, we can mutually agree on a fair compensation."
Or, you can provide a range and not commit to a specific number. An example: "Depending on the responsibilities of the open position and the health benefits provided, my requirements are in the range of $ABC to $XYZ." If you decide to include a range, make sure the low end of the range is a number you can live with--a suggested place to start is 10% more than your current or most recent salary.
Include a Call to Action
In the last paragraph, include a statement such as "I will call you Friday the 8th to confirm receipt of my resume and to set up an interview." When you indicate in your letter that you plan to take the initiative to follow up, the interviewer will be expecting your phone call--and that increases the chances your call will be put through.
Following up works. It shows ambition and drive. If you want to stand out in a sea of qualified candidates, you must demonstrate to the hiring organization that you are interested in working for them. Following up can be just the trick that gets you in the door.