Review These Ten Things Before You Write Your Next Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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When it comes to finding a job, a well-written cover letter can help you make it through the initial hurdle of an HR screen. There are a lot of cover letter tips floating around, but it's especially important that you pay close attention to the following 10 items.

1. Work Experience

Unless you are pursuing an entry-level job in your field, your cover letter should focus more on your work experience than your education. Be sure to demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for your chosen career.

2. Anecdotes

Your cover letter doesn't have to be a boring rehash of your CV. Read through your letter to make sure you include at least one anecdote that demonstrates your skills or knowledge.

3. Capabilities

If a hiring manager wants to know about all of your past jobs, she can read your CV. Instead of writing several paragraphs on your job duties, make sure your cover letter addresses why you are a good candidate for the position.

4. Personal Touch

Be sure to mention if you have a personal connection to the employer. If you are a life-long user of the company's products, for example, make a note of it in your cover letter.

5. Informal Tone

You don't have to be overly formal when writing a cover letter, but you do need to be professional. Before sending out a letter, ask someone to review it, and make sure it flows well.

6. Company Focus

Instead of addressing your needs, address the needs of the company. Show the hiring manager how your skills can benefit the company in some way, such as saving money or creating innovative products.

7. Opening Line

Review the opening line of your cover letter to make sure it is not too generic. Try your best to find out the name of the hiring manager, and use it in your letter.

8. Formatting

If you are applying for a job with a creative company, it's okay to get creative with your cover letter. You might want to include an infographic or lay out the text in an unusual way. If you are applying to a conservative company, however, save the formatting tricks for another time.

9. Brevity

Unless the advertisement specifically requests a lengthy cover letter, don't be tempted to ramble on for several pages. Open with a strong statement, summarize your skills, and close with a statement about why you want to work for the company.

10. File Format

If you are sending your cover letter as an email attachment, use PDF format. Not everyone has the latest version of Microsoft Office, and you don't want to miss an opportunity because your file isn't compatible with the hiring manager's office suite.

Writing a great cover letter is just the first step in finding rewarding employment. Put your best foot forward by following these cover letter tips and impressing the hiring manager.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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