This is How to Write a Cover Letter That Will be Read

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

A cover letter for your resume can be as simple as an email with your resume attached. When all other things are equal with another candidate, a standout letter can make the difference between getting an interview or not getting an interview. Discover a few simple tips for introducing yourself to your future boss.

Forgo the Template

Don't use a template for a cover letter that anyone can find through a Google search. Every employer is different, and you're different from every other candidate. You can't stand out from the crowd if your letter looks like everyone else's letter. Show off your communication skills by thinking about your audience and how you can solve your hiring manager's problem.

Make Every Word Count

This correspondence is about 12 to 15 sentences long. Just like with a one-page resume, every word in your cover letter counts. Each word should describe you and only you rather than someone else. If someone else can put a particular word or phrase in your letter, try to get rid of it. For example, don't say "good communicator" or "detail-oriented" because anyone else can state that information. Rather, include facts about your experience or how you can solve an employer's problem.

Say Something Different From Your Resume

Your introduction should stay focused on the employer and the overall job description as a way to let your hiring manager know the main reason why you're the perfect fit for the position. This is different from your resume, which highlights your skills, experience and qualifications. Think of your cover letter as a way to get your employer to look at your resume. Pique the employer's interest with a compelling reason to read more.

Research the Company

Familiarize yourself with the employer and any major issues or projects the company is facing. This demonstrates to the person reading your cover letter that you fully understand what the company needs at this particular time, and offers a great opportunity to leverage your network by talking to someone from the company over coffee to get more information.

Convince the Other Person

Avoid too many "I" statements and convey what you offer to the employer. Use hard numbers to say to the hiring manager precisely what actions you plan to take once you're in the position. Perhaps you can outline a 90-day plan that solves a particular problem.

Detail how your skills make the company's investment in you worthwhile. You may wow the company with your PR skills, but adding a bit of coding to your repertoire means you might have additional skills such as improving the website or computer system used by the PR department.

Your cover letter should contain enough features and benefits to get the employer's interest. How do your best features or skills benefit the company? When you answer that question, those concepts form the basis of your introductory correspondence. Including hard numbers and a concrete plan makes your letter rise to top over other candidates.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch