How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

A cover letter is a resume’s best friend. While many people believe that a cover letter simply introduces a resume, it does much more. Cover letters allow you to talk about important experiences and skills and relate them to specific job requirements for the position.

A well-written cover letter is also the perfect sample of your written communication skills, but be sure to be clear and concise when writing your letter. Recruiters have stacks of resumes to filter through and typically glance through a cover letter. Here’s how to make your cover letter really stand out:

Properly format like a letter
In the era of emails and texts, your formal letter writing skills might be a bit rusty. Click here for a refresher on how to write a letter.

Address it to the person who can hire you
If you can find out exactly who is making the hiring decision through networking and researching, address the letter to that person. Be sure the name is spelled correctly and the title is correct. A touch of formality is nice. Address the person as Mr., Ms., Mrs., Miss, or Dr. If you cannot find the specific person’s name, be sure to include an appropriate greeting such as Dear Hiring Manager.

Show that you know something about the company and the industry
This is where your research comes in. Don’t go overboard – just make it clear that you didn’t pick this company out of the phone book. Visit the company’s website and find out about what they do to show them you are genuinely interested in becoming part of their team.

Write the body of your letter
The body of the letter should include no more than three short paragraphs (remember – clear and concise is key). Follow these guidelines when writing the body of the letter:

  • Paragraph 1: Tell the employer why you are writing to them in two or three sentences. State the position which you are applying for. Mention how you became aware of the opening — a recruiter, an online job board, a mutual contact. Lastly, specify why you are interested in working for this company.
  • Paragraph 2: In the next paragraph, outline your qualifications and match them to the requirements of the position. Use what you have researched about the company.
  • Paragraph 3: Make your closing paragraph between two to four sentences. Direct the employer to your enclosed resume and make sure you specify that you are available for an interview. Finish by thanking them for their time and consideration, and welcome them to contact you to continue the conversation.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!
Make sure that your letter is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Run spelling and grammar checks. Have a friend proof your letter.

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