Cover letters are a dynamic way to introduce yourself to potential employers. Even before they look at your resume, you can give them a positive impression with a vibrant cover letter. Below you will find several tips to make your cover letter shine.
1) Introduce the Best Candidate: You!
A cover letter answers the question: “Why are you the right person for this job?” Before you write one word of your cover letter, imagine yourself as the best candidate for the opening. This will put you in the right frame of mind when choosing the words you want to represent you.
If you are punctual, hard-working, self-motivated, or have any other qualities your employer will want in his or her staff, the letter is the place to talk about it. Don’t be afraid to really sell yourself; a good letter distinguishes your application from the many others the company receives.
A cover letter does not answer the question: “What experience do I have?” Your resume does that. Instead of regurgitating your job history, use your letter to talk about what you will bring to the company if you are the successful candidate.
2) Do Your Homework
Not every employer is looking for the same set of skills. Therefore, one cover letter will not work for every application. To really “wow” your readers, treat every job opening as unique. Learn about the position you want and tailor your letter accordingly.
To really grab the attention of your reader, include evidence that you know a bit about the company for which you’re applying. If you’re applying for a job at a college, for example, check out their website to see if they’ve won any awards or if they have any notable programs. The hirers will be encouraged to give you a chance if your cover letter says something like, “I am impressed that your school has won the Huntley Academic Award, and I would be honored to join such an illustrious team.”
3) Advice on Formatting
To improve the readability of your letter, limit it to one page only, including your contact information at the top of the page. Make your cover letter very short, with concise paragraphs and plenty of white space left over. You don’t need to list every detail about yourself; just pick a few things that really stand out and showcase them only.
The font you use should be in a readable size (between 10 and 12 points), and should exactly match the font you choose for your resume. Use the same type of paper for both documents, as well. Your letter and resume will look most professional if you present them as a matching set.
Do not use multiple or complicated fonts, and avoid using colored paper or ink. A clean black typeface on stark white paper looks crisp, professional, and desirable to read.
Remember, the physical look of your cover letter is just as important as its content; each element reinforces the other, so take the time to make your letter look and sound just right. It might mean landing your dream job!
Brian Scott is a professional freelance writer who teaches how to write in Plain English using correct style and usage in the English language. He recommends using StyleWriter, an English Grammar Checker, to write better English, available at http://www.StyleWriter-USA.com.