How To Write a Winning Cover Letter
A cover letter is often the first and only chance you get to make a good impression with potential employers. A good cover letter should do four things:
- Introduce yourself
- Explain your purpose for writing
- Highlight your experience and skills
- Request an opportunity to meet with the employer
The following tips may help you to create a more successful cover letter.
1. Know the basic format of a professional business letter
This is essential to everything else in the letter writing process. There is a commonly accepted format for a professional business letter. Use it.
2. Choose the appropriate greeting
Avoid old-fashioned colloquialisms such as "Dear Sir or Madam" in favor of finding the name of the person doing the hiring or the executive of the company. Address them directly.
3. Know the purpose of your letter
There are two types of cover letters - the application cover letter, which responds to a known job opening, and the prospective cover letter, inquiring about possible open positions. Make sure the body of your letter addresses your intent for contacting the company.
4. Take time to individualize the body of the letter for the position you want
Highlight reasons why you would be a good match for the company and the requirements of the position for which you are applying. Include a short list of unique skills or experience that might set you apart from other applicants.
5. Keep it concise
A cover letter is intended to be a quick way for an employer to determine who makes the cut for the first round of interviews and who gets left in the pile. Be sure your text is brief and to the point and limit yourself to 2-3 short paragraphs.
6. Check spelling and grammar
This is hands-down the most important thing you can do when editing and reviewing your cover letter. Spelling and grammar errors are huge red flags to employers and could make or break your chance at getting an interview, no matter how qualified you are for the position.
7. Sign your cover letter
Put a personal finishing touch on your cover letter by signing it yourself with black or blue ink.
Remember - a good cover letter will highlight your skills and talents and leave a lasting, professional impression on your potential employer. It is meant to complement your resume, not to duplicate it. Spend some extra time polishing your cover letter - you may be surprised at the results!
For more information, check out these titles at any branch of Springfield Greene County Library.
Power Verbs for Job Seekers: Hundreds of Verbs and Phrases to Bring your Resumes, Cover Letters, and Job Interviews to Life, by Michael Faulkner.
1,001 Phrases You Need to Get a Job: the "Hire Me" Words that Set Your Cover Letter, Resume, and Job Interview Apart, by Nancy Schuman and Burton Jay Nadler.
The Everything Cover Letter Book: Winning Cover Lettters for Everybody from Student to Executive, by Burton Jay Nadler.
Cover Letters that Knock 'Em Dead, by Martin Yate.
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