Need to Knows for Your Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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Job seekers often struggle with how to begin and end cover letters to stand out from the competition. A well-written letter that emphasizes both hard and soft skills is adequate, but you must also know how to pique the interest of employers and customize the letter to show that you are the best fit for the position.

Follow directions provided by the employer to avoid being disqualified from consideration. If the company requests cover letters, job applications, resumes and philosophy statements, ensure that your package includes all of the required materials. Customize the letter for each position so it does not read like a general template. Read through the job description or advertisement, and align your skills with the requirements of the position to show that you are the most qualified candidate.

Be original when compiling cover letters. Instead of writing a general salutation such as "to whom it may concern," address the letter to a specific hiring manager. Not all job advertisements include a specific hiring manager, so it may be necessary to research the company directory or search social media accounts such as LinkedIn to identify the right person to address.

Begin the letter with an engaging sentence. Job seekers who begin with a general statement such as "attached you will find my resume" or "I am applying for xxx job" do not stand out from the competition. Instead, highlight your accomplishments right away by quoting a recommendation from a past employer or feedback from a previous performance review. You can also begin with a statement about career goals that are in line with qualities the company is seeking within the new position.

Detail why you want to work for the company throughout the body of cover letters. Explain the attractive elements of the company culture, the team-oriented environment and the opportunities that you desire to achieve as an employee. Compile facts and data based on research of the company that you can disperse throughout the letter that show you have put time and effort into ensuring this position is the right one for you — and, more importantly, that you are the best candidate for the job.

Match your skills to skills the company is seeking. If a job advertisement details that the company is seeking candidates with proficiency in computer applications, provide specific details about your experience with these applications within your cover letters. Focus on processes, work-related skills and procedures in which you are fluent and provide specific examples from past positions that show you have job-related success. Include soft skills that show your willingness to work as a team and proficiency with workplace communication.

Cover letters offer a glimpse into your professionalism and proficiency with job tasks. Impress from the start with a well-crafted letter that makes you stand out from other candidates.

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