Four Paragraphs That Can Make Your Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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A cover letter represents a vital document that introduces yourself and your personality to a prospective employer. This aspect of the job search may face neglect while you opt to beef up your resume, professional references and skill set.

However, a dynamite cover letter needs to catch the attention of a hiring manager in one minute or less. Engage the reader with a tailored piece of correspondence that fits the job description, addresses the person in charge of hiring you and demonstrates your knowledge of the position for which you apply. You only have four paragraphs to wow someone, so make them count.

Paragraph 1: Introduce Yourself

Your first paragraph of a unique cover letter introduces yourself in one to two sentences. If someone referred this job to you, mention that person's name in the first line. Announce any important qualifications right away, such as 10 years' job experience within the field. Sum up your elevator pitch with strong verbs that describe what you bring to the table.

Paragraph 2: Explain Yourself

The second paragraph explains why you want this particular position in this firm. Show you researched the company by including details related to the job description and the firm's mission statement, company values and company culture. Check out the About Us page on the company website, peruse the LinkedIn pages of higher-up executives and read news stories related to the business. Incorporate two to three sentences total on why you want to work there.

Paragraph 3: Show How You Fit

The third, and longest, paragraph of the cover letter includes a personal reason as to what makes you the perfect candidate for this position. Make this a story that correlates your experience to some major aspect of the job description. Illustrate how you helped a team of 10 dedicated individuals who increased sales at Acme Brick for 15 successive quarters, and how you plan to use that knowledge to take Smith Appliances to the next level. Make a suggestion that relates to the job description, such as retooling a company logo, implementing more social media sales or downloading sales apps for the team. Take about five sentences to explain the meat of your story.

Paragraph 4: Thank the Hiring Manager

Your final paragraph has three quick sentences. The first one thanks the hiring manager you mention by name in the salutation for his time, while the second one summarizes how you feel about the position. Write as if you enjoyed composing your story within the cover letter by saying something similar to: "Thank you for your time and consideration, Mr. Smith. I would be thrilled to discuss the possibility of helping your firm achieve the next level of sales success." Then, briefly discuss how Mr. Smith may contact you.

Your cover letter does not have to represent the next Great American Novel. However, your one-page document should elucidate your personality behind the resume, skills, references and educational background. A good story, combined with your personal assets, show you mean business to a prospective employer while on a job search.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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