Tips to Put Your Cover Letter to Work for You

Nancy Anderson
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You have spent countless hours perfecting your resume, proofreading every letter, analyzing every word and verifying the accuracy of every date. Before you mail your masterpiece, you have to create a cover letter that is specific to the job you want. Don't let your cover letter be an afterthought; consider these nine elements to ensure that your cover letter makes a great first impression.

1. Appropriate Greeting

Rather than using a generic “To whom it may concern” greeting, take the time to learn the name of the hiring manager and address your cover letter specifically to her. Creating a custom cover letter shows sincerity and diligence.

2. Attention-Getting Introduction

Make sure you open your cover letter with an exciting introduction that grips the reader’s attention and makes her want to continue to the end. Be creative while still maintaining a professional tone.

3. Positivity

If you are unemployed, mentioning it in your cover letter can set a negative undertone. Instead, focus your cover letter on the strengths and qualifications that you can offer the employer.

4. Unique Content

Make sure your cover letter provides new information that is valuable to the reader. Don't repeat information from your resume. With only a limited amount of space to sell yourself, the cover letter should be distinctive.

5. Keywords

Before writing your cover letter, review the job posting to familiarize yourself with what the employer is looking for in an applicant. Pull keywords and phrasing from the posting to incorporate into your cover letter.

6. Explanation of Gaps

If your resume has employment gaps, address them in the cover letter by providing a reasonable explanation or demonstrating what you did to keep your skills fresh during this time. Mention additional education that you acquired during that time or volunteer work you completed.

7. Proper Length

Your cover letter shouldn't be too short or too long. Limit your cover letter to one page, but provide enough detail to sell the hiring manager on your skills and qualifications.

8. Unforgettable Ending

The final paragraph of your cover letter should summarize why you are an ideal candidate for the job. End your cover letter in a memorable way that keeps you fresh in the mind of the hiring manager.

9. Attention to Detail

Proofread your finished cover letter several times to make sure it is flawless. A well-crafted cover letter easily loses its credibility and value when it contains mistakes.

Your cover letter should work hand-in-hand with your resume without being repetitive. It should serve as an additional tool to create a good first impression and demonstrate the skills you can bring to the job. Take full advantage of this opportunity to sell yourself by keeping these nine elements in mind.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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