Writing a successful cover letter requires striking a delicate balance between creating a document that stands out from the crowd and not veering too far off the conventional path. Consider these six tips to customize your cover letter so that it makes a great first impression on a potential employer.
1. Do Your Research
Before you even begin crafting your cover letter, research the company and the job position. Make a list of keywords and job skills that you feel are important to the company, and make notes about how you relate to each of those skills and qualifications. You want to use the same keywords throughout your cover letter and resume.
2. Sell Yourself
While writing your cover letter, focus on explaining why you want to work for the company. Reference the company's mission and goals, and explain what contribution you can make to the organization. Reference specific keywords from the job posting, and demonstrate how your skills and qualifications align with the needs and wants of the company.
3. Include Past Experience
In addition to focusing on how your skills and qualifications match up with the employer, discuss educational experience and work achievements that are applicable to the position. Include a few career highlights or quantifiable facts about accomplishments that you've completed. This demonstrates to the employer that you are capable of completing the necessary duties that the job position entails.
4. Finish With a Strong Conclusion
The conclusion paragraph of your cover letter is a last attempt to demonstrate what you can do for the company. Explain why your career goals and objectives match perfectly with the company's mission, and discuss how your personality and work ethic align with the organization's culture. This lets the hiring manager see that you're a great fit for the job position and the company.
5. Follow the Directions
Make sure you read the job posting closely to ensure that you cover all of the required information. Some companies request other documents in addition to the cover letter and resume. Keep your cover letter to a single page; hiring managers scan cover letters quickly, so you should only include the most pertinent details.
6. Apply the Polish
Regardless of how unique and impressive your cover letter is, a mistake can make the difference between landing an interview and landing in the reject pile. Be sure to proofread your cover letter carefully for grammar and punctuation errors. Mistakes in your cover letter or resume show a lack of attention to detail.
Never send out two cover letters that are identical and generic. Follow these six tips to customize your cover letter to the specific job for which you're applying to grab the hiring manager's attention and land an interview. The extra effort you expend to personalize each cover letter is sure to pay off in the long term.
Photo courtesy of Roger Bakker at Flickr.com
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