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writing a cover letter

Tips for Writing a Great Cover Letter


Let’s face it – writing a cover letter can be kind of intimidating. You know the rule that you should customize each letter you send out to be specific to the job/company/manager you are applying to, but sometimes just getting the basic letter template together can seem like a momentous task.  If you are like many others, you may find that at least having a draft letter to work from will help you later on when you need to customize it.

So as I mentioned, always target your letter to the specific job you are applying to. What this means is, you will be revising your cover letter EVERY time you apply to a different job with these specific changes.

Personalize the greeting of your letter: If you know who the hiring manager is, address it to them.  If you were referred by someone on a personal level then mention this.  Connections/referrals are always a good conversation starter.

Personalize the “meat” of the letter: Let them know which job you are applying to, choose a few of the requirements listed in the job description, and explain “how” or “why” you would be a fit for each of the requirements you’ve chosen (either through past work experience, or relevant training). Tell them what you like about their company, or how you see yourself contributing to their company.

Always highlight how your unique background and set of skills would be an asset in this particular position: Perhaps you have a background in production work, and an education/certs in IT – you might be a perfect fit for an entry level IT support position in a production environment…tell the hiring manager this. If you path is relevant to you applying to this position – tell them why it is.

Keep it short and sweet:  Cover letters should be 1 page or less, and they should not repeat your resume verbatim, if you are sending a cover letter, you are also sending your resume…keep in mind that the hiring manager’s time is valuable, and only highlight the most important items in your cover letter.

Spell check and grammar check: Do this yourself, but also have someone else read through your letter for a second look (it can be hard to pick up on spelling or grammar mistakes after spending so much time reading and re-reading a cover letter yourself).

Always be professional. This is self-explanatory –always be polite and professional in all your business dealings.

Close strong, with confidence: This one is my favorites and can apply to many aspects of your job search. Always ask for the opportunity to interview in your cover letter and thank them for their time.

Remember, your cover letter shows some of your personality and can be customized to show your writing talent, your eye for detail, your career progression, and whatever else you highlight on it.  So make it shine.

Bonus: Microsoft cover letter templates are available within your Word program. You can find them by opening Word, clicking “File” and “New” and searching for “Cover Letter”.

Thank you for reading my post. I write about Interviewing, Job Search Strategies, Resumes and Career Services.

Check out my article on How to Write a Thank You Letter

Here are some other recent posts I have written on LinkedIn:

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