10 Tips to Writing a Great Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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The job application process is challenging on its own, so it's important to use every possible tool in your arsenal to help you succeed. A cover letter should be included with every job application and resume you submit. Consider the following 10 cover letter tips to help make your cover letter stand out in the pack.

Do not repeat the information from your resume. Your cover letter is a completely separate document and should read as such. Take the experiences and skills you listed on your resume, and use your cover letter to explain those experiences in detail.

Focus on the benefits you can provide the company. Hiring managers already know you want the job. What they don't know is why they should hire you. Use the cover letter to explain why you're the best candidate.

Avoid focusing too heavily on your educational background. Hiring managers, above anything, care about your work experience. If you lack traditional work experience, include specific information about internships or volunteer experiences that relate to the position.

Focus on your strengths. Never mention your shortcomings in a cover letter, notes career expert Lily Zhang. Zhang suggests staying positive, focusing on your strengths, and relaying your genuine enthusiasm for the position.

Use keywords in your cover letter. Read the job description thoroughly, and use the keywords in the description in your cover letter. Many hiring managers use software to select candidates for interviews, so using skill-based keywords separates your cover letter from the pack. This strategy lets employers know that you have the exact skills related to the job they're hiring for.

Don't be afraid to tell a story. Let the hiring manager know why you are passionate about the industry or position, and mention any relevant hobbies or activities in which you participate that relate to the job. This strategy helps employers paint a picture of you as a person.

Use numbers to demonstrate your expertise. For instance, if you helped increase sales for a previous company, let your potential employer know, and include the exact or approximate figure or percentage of increase in your cover letter. "Employers love to see numbers--it shows them that you speak their language and that you understand what they're looking for in an employee: results," says career expert Megan Broussard.

Make the tone of your cover letter conversational, but not overly formal. You want to seem friendly, human and approachable, not forced or robotic. Keep the letter professional yet warm.Customize your letter to the company and position. Every cover letter you write should be unique. A canned, one-size-fits-all cover letter is quite easy to spot and not impressive.

Proofread your cover letter carefully. Cover letters should never have spelling or grammar mistakes. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to read over your letter a couple of times, spot mistakes and provide feedback.

Consider these cover letter tips to make your next cover letter more interesting and effective. Remember, the cover letter complements your resume and helps to sell you as a person and not just a job applicant. An interesting, charismatic and perfectly edited cover letter could be the key to landing your next dream job.


Photo courtesy of iprostocks at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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