Check Out This Formula for Your Next Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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You've crafted an impeccable resume that's sure to impress any hiring manager, and you're ready to pop it in the mail. Not so fast. Every resume you send should be accompanied by an equally flawless cover letter, designed to introduce yourself and tell the recruiter why you're the best candidate for the job. Follow this simple formula to write a cover letter that gets you that interview.

1. Start With Contact Information

The first section of your cover letter should contain all the information the employer needs to contact you. In this block, include your name, full mailing address, telephone number and email address. Next, add today's date. Finally, insert a block with the employer's contact information, including the hiring manager's name, his title, the company name and the mailing address.

2. Add a Salutation

Always begin your cover letter with a salutation, such as "Dear Mr. Williams" or "Dear Ms. Smith." If you're not sure who to address your cover letter to, call the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager. Never settle for a generic "To whom it may concern" greeting.

3. Open With a Story

The first paragraph of your cover letter should grab the recruiter's attention and make you memorable. Tell a story about how you chose your career path or why you have a passion for marketing. Attempt to make a connection with the company. For example, tell how you've been using its products since you were a kid.

4. Toss in Your Skills

The second paragraph of your cover letter should demonstrate what you can offer the hiring organization. Scan the job description to determine the most important skills the employer is seeking in a candidate, and be sure to include those that apply.

5. Include Your Achievements

Use the third paragraph of your cover letter to provide some examples of your past career successes. This offers proof of your skills. Tell about a sales award you won, or discuss how you launched a mentoring program at your previous company.

6. End With a Plan

In the final paragraph of your cover letter, thank the hiring manager for his time and consideration. Always provide a detailed plan for following up. State your intention to call or email the hiring manager in one week to discuss the job opportunity and a possible interview date. Mark your calendar, and be sure to hold to your plan.

7. Close It Out

Finally, end your cover letter with a complimentary close, such as "Sincerely" or "Respectfully Yours." Add a handwritten signature above your typed signature.

Your cover letter should never be an afterthought. Take the time to follow this simple formula for every cover letter you send, crafting each customized document specifically to the position for which you're applying.

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