Crafting a Successful Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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Cover letters create a positive first impression if written well and professionally. Sell your skills and stand out from the other applicants with a creative and well-crafted letter. Make a solid impression and entice a potential employer to want to schedule a job interview with a letter that shows why you are the perfect fit for the company culture and the position you are applying for.

Writing cover letters does not have to be a challenge if you are armed with enough information. Compile a list of your strengths, skills and experience before writing. Brainstorm hard skills such as knowledge of the industry, software applications you are proficient in and job skills that fit the position. Brainstorm soft skills, too, such as a keen eye for detail, motivation, dedication and a willingness to work with teams.

Analyze the job description and try to match your skills to what the employer desires. For example, if the employer is looking for a candidate who can exceed sales goals, detail your accomplishments in past sales positions. Create a table before writing cover letters with one column that details the requirements of the job and another column that details your qualifications that match these requirements. This helps you explain why you are the right fit for the job in the letter.

Instead of writing cover letters from a template, write each letter from scratch and target it to the specific position you're applying for. Ensure that each accomplishment and skill you describe is relevant to the position, and refrain from including general information that does not apply to the job at hand. Address the letter to a specific hiring manager to show that you have researched the company and have a knack for paying close attention to details.

Keep your letter brief, preferably no longer than one page. Research has shown that you have approximately 30 seconds to hook a reader's attention, and without an engaging introduction and a brief synopsis of why you are the best candidate for the position, hiring managers may quickly lose interest and move on to the next candidate.

Proofread the letter thoroughly to avoid making a negative impression that shows sloppiness. Cover letters that are flawless and free from spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors show that you are conscientious and serious. Pay close attention to formatting as well. Avoid using large fonts or loud graphics that may not be deemed professional by a potential employer. Lastly, align the text to the left and use a formal structure and typeface, such as Times New Roman.

Although a finely tuned resume is impressive, cover letters can make or break a candidate's chances of obtaining a job interview. Craft a professional and interesting letter to increase your chances of impressing the employer and landing your dream job.

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