To Whom Should I Address The Cover Letter?

Dear Sir/Madam?  Oh, gosh, when was the last time someone called you ‘madam’?  Or the last time you called someone ‘sir’?  This screams “form letter”.  Form letters, of course, are those letters that are sent to everyone on a mailing list.  Sure, you can use mail merge and insert someone’s name to make it look individualized; but judging by the content of the letter you can spot a form letter a mile away. 

How do you feel when someone calls you by name?  You walk into a room and someone says “Hey, Kelly, nice to see you”. It makes you feel good. Plain and simple. The same holds true for mail (electronic or hard copy).   We are more apt to impress the reader if we use their name. 

So how do we find out the name of the person most likely to read our cover letters?  Well, it can be done.  Maybe not easily, maybe not quickly, but with some resourcefulness, you can find out to whom to address your cover letter.  I know what you’re thinking….she said ‘whom’….I’m going to address it to ‘whom it may concern’.  No!  That’s just as bad as Dear Sir/Madam.

With the vast information available at our fingertips there’s little excuse for not doing some basic research on a company.  The first step in that research is to find out who to send the letter to.  Now, even though we want to Google everything, let’s step back now and take a less modern approach.  Let’s call the company. Gasp! What? Call them?  Yes, dust off that phone and call the number in the ad. If the number isn’t included in the ad, check www.canada411.com . Call the number and politely and confidently ask to whom should you address your cover letter and application.  Immediately, you’ve made a first impression with the gatekeeper of the company.  Good for you! 

If you’re nervous about making that phone call because you don’t know what to say, try this:

“Hi.  My name is Kelly and I’m applying for the executive assistant position.  I’d really like to send my application directly to the person who will be reading it.  Would you tell me their name please?”

or

“Hi. My name is Kelly and I’m applying for the executive assistant position.  I am mailing my resume today, can you please give me the proper spelling of the person to whom it should be sent?”

What have you got to lose when it comes to showcasing your professionalism, telephone manners, resourcefulness, and initiative?  Just another way of putting your name in the minds of those who are thinking about hiring.

Good get ’em!

Published in: on January 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm  Comments (1)  

Essentials of a Unique Cover Letter…that’s right, “unique”

Imagine having a stack of junk mail in front of you that you actually had to read.  How much would you pay to have someone else go through it all to find out if there’s anything  worth reading?  Or would you rather spend the money on a heavy-duty shredder to just get that pile off your desk?

If you’re in the human resources department of a large organization or the owner, operator, and chief bottle washer of a small organization – you may actually have to read a pile of letters because you need to hire someone  – and soon!

The key word in my title is ‘unique’ and that doesn’t mean coming up with new adjectives for hard-working, professional, team player and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Where have I read that before?  Oh, yeah, from that pile of junk mail, I mean cover letters.  They all say the same thing.

Because you’ve read so many examples of supposedly good cover letters that start with “Please accept this letter as my application for chief bottle washer….” it doesn’t mean that it’s the right way to write a cover letter.  And it sure doesn’t mean it’s the only way to write a cover letter.

Try to be unique…original…new….fresh…an individual.  You must stand out.

Here are three essentials I believe that will help make your cover letter unique:

  1. Grab the reader’s attention.  If you took on your co-worker’s duties while she was on maternity leave for a year, do the math and calculate how much money you save the company during that time.  Let’s say your co-worker earns $40,000 per year.  Your opening sentence can say something like this….”I single-handedly saved the organization $40K over 12 months by doubling my caseload.”  Of course, the sentence would have to be relevant to the job you’re applying for (that’s another blog), but you get the idea. Specifics like “40K” and “12 months” are memorable, they stand out, they are unique.  No one else is going to have that exact same opening.
  2. Show that you’ve done your homework; i.e. you’ve researched the company.  If you are applying for a position in the office of an otorhinolaryngologist then you should know what that means.  It’s an ENT specialist.  Oh, ENT means ‘ears, nose, throat’.  And that’s about all I remember from my medical terminology studies.
  3. Leave the ball in your court.  Don’t just drop the letter in the mailbox (yes, sometimes people actually still do that) and hope for the best. Way too passive. Your closing sentence should be “If I don’t hear from you within the next two weeks, I will follow-up to check on my application’s status”.  This shows that you really are interested, you are a go-getter, you’re assertive, you’re punctual (because you actually will call in exactly two weeks from the date on your letter). Aren’t these all qualities employers look for when hiring someone?

Go get ’em!

Published in: on January 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment