The Basics of a Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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Candidates who write an interesting, engaging and unique cover letter stand out from the rest of the applicants. You may have a polished resume and prepared an impressive portfolio during your job search, but without an introductory letter that explains why you want the position and how you fit within the company culture, hiring managers cannot truly see who you are as a professional.

A cover letter is designed to highlight your skills and experience that are relevant to the position and useful to the employer, explains Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., and Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., with Quint Careers. Call attention to your unique talents, skills that are relevant to the position and experience that the employer is seeking. Craft an engaging introduction that captures interest and hooks the reader. Applicants should avoid writing an opening statement that is common, such as "I am applying for XYZ position." Instead, begin with an anecdote or story that highlights a professional accomplishment that is relevant to the industry.

Your cover letter should also display your ability to research the company. Show that you are knowledgeable about products, services, processes and procedures. Mention how your goals are in line with the company's mission and goals. Employers seek candidates who take the time to learn about the business, its operations and its accomplishments. Highlight actions or services that you find impressive and show how your talents, skills and experience can enhance the productivity and profits of the business.

Avoid using general templates when writing a cover letter. Hiring managers scan through hundreds of resumes and letters when screening applicants. Your letter should stand out with unique wording that is brief, concise and directed specifically at how you can benefit the company. Outline how you have worked with teams, collaborated with clients to complete projects and provided superior customer service that led to client retention. Highlight professional accomplishments related to the position and detail how you want to succeed as a representative of the business.

Your job search should also focus on analyzing the job description. Use keywords from the job description within your cover letter to capture the attention of the potential employer. Mention computer applications or equipment you have used that applies to the position. Employers are seeking individuals who require minimal training. Show that you are a self-starter and eager to learn the processes while detailing the skills you possess that the employer is seeking in a candidate.

Employers are seeking candidates who are not only experienced and talented, but also individuals who are credible and professional. Proofread your cover letter thoroughly to avoid damaging your credibility. Check the letter for organization and flow to ensure it is engaging and interesting. Focus on how you can benefit from the position and affect the company as a whole to nail an interview.

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