5 Rules for Writing a Job-Winning Cover Letter

Writing a cover letter can feel like an afterthought when you’ve already spent time crafting your resume. But, a cover letter is an important part of your job application and it’s worth taking the time to write a compelling one. This article will cover five rules for how to write a cover letter that will boost your chances of scoring an interview and getting hired.

1. Tailor Your Cover Letter

It can be tempting to use a generic cover letter for all of your job applications. While this does save time, it will be immediately obvious to hiring managers that you’ve done so, which can harm your chances of being called for an interview. Instead, take the time to tailor your cover letter to each job application.

To do so, research the company before you apply. Look for details about the company’s values and goals, and information about the hiring manager if you know their name. Read the job posting carefully to identify keywords that the employer uses to describe what they are looking for in a candidate. Then use all of your research and keywords to inform the tone and the details that you include in your cover letter.

2. Emphasize How You’ll Provide Value

Avoid simply restating the information that you included in your resume. Instead, use the additional space in your cover letter to expand on those details and frame them in the context of how you will use your education, skills, experience, and so forth to provide value to the company. Remember that many employers are placing increasing importance on soft skills, and be sure to work your strongest soft skills in throughout your entire application. Soft skills include things like communication, time management, empathy, friendliness, leadership, and so on.

3. Keep It Short

Keep your cover letter to less than one page. Hiring managers generally do not want to spend the time to read an exceptionally long letter, so show off your concise communication skills by writing a short, impactful letter.

4. Organize Your Cover Letter Properly

Organizing your cover letter well will help ensure that you’ve included all the necessary information and that you don’t ramble too much. Start with a header that includes your name and contact information, the date, the hiring manager’s name, and title if you know those details, and the company’s name and address.

Then write a formal greeting and start by briefly introducing yourself in your opening paragraph. Express enthusiasm for the position and highlight your most impressive qualifications. In the second paragraph, go into greater detail about your education, skills, and experience. Then, wrap up your cover letter with a strong closing paragraph that includes an invitation to contact you regarding the position and a formal sign-off.

5. Proofread and Get Feedback

Finally, proofread your cover letter carefully. Don’t rely solely on your computer’s spell check program—read through your letter word by word to check for any errors. You may also wish to enlist the help of a trusted friend, family member, or mentor to provide a final edit and give feedback on your cover letter as a whole.

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