5 Cover Letter Tips

Nancy Anderson
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The main purpose of a cover letter is to persuade an employer to invite you for an interview. It also serves as a complement to your resume, so it's imperative that it speak volumes about you. Here are some tips to create the perfect cover letter for any job application.

1. Customize It for Each Job

Don't make the common mistake of sending out generic letters to multiple companies, as most hiring managers can spot a generic template from a mile away. Highlight the skills you possess that are relevant to the position, and use a tone throughout your letter that matches the company's tone, whether it is casual, witty or formal. Provide bullet points that call out how you meet the job requirements listed in the description.

2. Focus on the Company's Needs

While it's good to sell yourself to the employer as the best person for the job, the overall tone of your cover letter should be about what you can do for the company. Why should the company hire you? A good way to answer this question is to discuss your experiences as they relate to that specific company's job description and values. Show them you can fit right in and be the kind of employee the company needs.

3. Keep It Short

Limit your cover letter to one page and three to four paragraphs. Your first paragraph is your introduction, explaining which position you're applying for and why you think you'd be the best choice. The next paragraph or two should highlight some key accomplishments and experiences that are relevant to the position, and the last paragraph should serve as a final reiteration of your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

4. Proofread Thoroughly

Edit your cover letter multiple times throughout the writing process. A spelling and grammar check isn't enough; you also need to watch out for run-on sentences, poor word flow and inconsistencies. Always enlist the help of a friend, colleague or professional resume assistant to act as your second pair of eyes; often, a fresh perspective can catch less obvious errors.

5. Include a Call to Action

A cover letter is designed to convince a hiring manager to bring you in for an interview. Don't be afraid to write the expectation into the body of your letter. Use statements such as "I am looking forward to meeting you soon" or "I am available next week for a personal meeting to discuss the position" in the last paragraph. Being upfront about your objective shows you are motivated, determined and assertive.

A cover letter is an important part of your job application. Hiring managers use your cover letter to determine your potential value as an employee based on what and how you write. Show them you have what it takes by creating a concise, customized cover letter that showcases your strengths while addressing the company's needs.

Photo courtesy of Goldy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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