One size does NOT fit all when it comes to cover letters.
The purpose of the cover letter is still the same -- to get someone to read
your resume and call you for an interview – but the type of document will
change depending on different scenarios. There is an enormous difference
between the approach in the cover letter for a job seeker with a personal
connection and the more formal cover letter applying to a posted job where the
document will be read by the HR department or a recruiter.
Certain elements are standard to all cover letters, says
recruiter Peter Shrive of Cambridge Management Planning:
According to Shrive, a comment like “I’ve sold 50,000
bottles of wine in my 10-year career as a wine steward” or “I increased wine
sales by 20% in my last position” will make an HR person take notice of your
cover letter and want to know more about you. Then you should state clearly how
your hospitality career aligns with the position being offered.
“Be sure to refer specifically to how you know this person,”
Shrive advises. “Don’t assume they’ll remember who you are.”
Let’s say you’ve met someone who works at a hotel where
you’re applying for a front desk clerk position, and that person has agreed to
act as an introduction. State up front in your letter: “George Johnson,
a manager at your hotel, mentioned me to you last week, and you agreed to meet
with me next Tuesday.” The personal connection cover letter always requires a
specific reminder of who you are and what the connection is. Never assume your
prospective employer knows who you are without jogging his or her memory.
This cover letter, designed to be read by recruiters and HR
departments, is a much more formal document, stating up front the job posting
information, including number and the specifics of the posting. For
instance…Job Listing #218, Hotel Front Desk Clerk for a small facility,
responsible for greeting and signing in guests. Job requires customer service
skills and organizational abilities.
From there, an effective cover letter will state how your
skills match the criteria in the job posting, such as: “As front of the house
manager at Red Rooster Restaurant, I was responsible for greeting and seating
guests as well as handling the reservations for lunch and dinner.”
The personal touch is making a comeback, especially in Europe, where it’s not uncommon for job seekers to send
in handwritten cover letters, sometimes accompanied by photos. In an
increasingly electronic era, what could be more original than the old-fashioned
approach where everything old is new again?