Tips for Writing a Perfect Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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The cover letter is a crucial job search tool for professionals in all industries. It rounds out your resume, helping potential employers understand who you are and how you would fit into their organizations. A compelling letter can make the difference between securing an interview and getting cut from the hiring process, so it is important to spend time crafting the perfect prose.

Stand Out from the Crowd

Hiring managers often review hundreds of job applications during hiring processes. After a while, each cover letter begins to sound like the one before. Stand out from the crowd by injecting a bit of your unique personality into the letter. Talk about your interests or relevant volunteer experience. Tell the story of your first interaction with the company, and tie it to your interest in the open position. Use humor if you can manage to do so in a professional manner. Tailor each letter to the specific position for which you are applying, making sure to demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Avoid boilerplate text at all costs — a single overused phrase might cause the reviewer to stop reading your letter.

Be Precise

A cover letter is a professional writing sample. It indicates to an employer how you will communicate with clients, colleagues and corporate executives. A wordy or overly flowery letter can be an instant turn-off. Instead, create a cover letter that's concise and has a professional tone. Choose your words carefully, aiming for a mix of simple language and industry jargon. Most importantly, allow ample time for proofreading. Proofread the document multiple times and give it to at least two other people for editing. In tough job markets, a single typo can cause you to lose your competitive advantage over other applicants.

Aim for Brevity

When it comes to writing a cover letter, less is more. For busy hiring managers, a multipage letter can be a significant annoyance. Make reviewers' lives easier by writing a maximum of three paragraphs. Get to the point quickly, and eliminate any unnecessary words. Put crucial information near the top of the page and at the beginning of each paragraph to encourage the employer to continue reading. Avoid the temptation to explain every detail of your employment history; after reading your letter, the reviewer should be interested in learning more about you. Crafting a compelling and brief cover letter is harder than it seems on the surface, but the effort is well worth the reward.

When it is written well, your cover letter can be one of your most valuable job search tools. By taking the time to craft an engaging, unique cover letter with perfect grammar, you can increase your chances of moving on to the next round of the hiring process.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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