In marketing, you always tell the prospect what you want them to do. In a resume, the call to action is implicit; in the cover letter, therefore, it must be clear and in service to the campaign as a whole, not just the cover letter itself. Clearly, when sending a cover letter with the resume (and always send a cover letter with the resume!), the CtA is “read the resume.” Consider that base covered. Instead, be clear about the campaign goal.
Especially in mailings not associated with a posted position, the reader needs to be clued in to who is initiating the next contact. “I look forward to your call,” means the reader has the burden of picking up the phone. Presuming you have the phone number, you can be more aggressive; “I’ll be calling you soon to arrange a meeting.”
Too often we see cover letters that ramble a bit and then peter out rather than being direct and ending decisively. Your cover letter should give the reader the high points of your value quickly and succinctly. Allow word choice to convey a hint of personality instead of extended prose to indicate you’re, say, a hard worker or a fun guy.
Offer sound reason to call you in for an interview (personality will be obvious in person), get in quick, hit hard, and let them know what to do with their favorable impression. Short covers are quickly read; long, dense covers are skimmed for anything relevant and set aside. Save your reader time and deliver relevance in three short paragraphs (or a short opening paragraph followed by two or three bullets and concluded with a short paragraph containing a clear call to action). The cover letter does not have to over-sell; one or two WOW factors will ensure at least a skim of the resume (your punchy resume sales zone then takes on the chore of selling the interview). The cover should simply position the reader with clear expectations for the resume detail and who calls whom.
So, pick up your tuba and sound your call to action!
Career Services International