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7 Steps to Writing Effective Cover Letters
A cover letter can be the ultimate compliment to your resume. With an effective and well-written letter, you can impress future employers with details that cannot always be found in the resume. Also, a cover letter may just be the reason your resume is even read. Employers are likely to ignore resumes that are unaccompanied. A cover letter makes it stand out.
However, for a cover letter to work, it must follow certain rules and meet certain standards. Below, you will find tips to help you meet those standards. By following these suggestions, you can perfect the necessary art of writing a cover letter.
1. Take Your Time
A cover letter is essential to your job seeking process; however, many overlook it or, worse, devote all of the energy to their resume and then throw together the cover letter as an afterthought. This is not wise: Employers read the cover letter first. Do you want their first impression of you to be a messy and obviously strewn-together letter? Of course, not! You want it to be professional; so, take your time. Allow equal proportions of time to be spent on both the resume and cover letter; they are both important and deserve equal attention.
2. Be Concise
Potential employers want to read your cover letter; they do not, however, want to read a novel. You must keep your letter simple and to the point—within a one-page limit, you have little room to maneuver. Use your space wisely. Offer important and necessary details, things that cannot be found in the resume. You have to make an impression in a short amount of time so make it count. Brevity is best.
3. Find Your Style
Cover letters allow you to reveal your personality in a way that resumes cannot. While a resume is impersonal and factual, a cover letter can be laced with humor and style. When you write your letter, find a friendly, yet still-professional tone. Make the reader want to meet you. A cover letter is a first impression; make it an enticing one.
4. The Name Game
When possible, address your letter to the person who will be interviewing you. This will accomplish two things: 1. Give a sense of familiarity between you and the reader. 2. Show that you did your research on the company. Still, remember to keep it professional. Do not address the reader as “Sarah”; call her “Ms. Smith”. If it is not possible to determine who will be interviewing you, keep your titles more generic.
5. Turn The Focus On Them
Do not start all of your sentences with “I” or “My”. This creates a self-focused letter. Instead, try to begin your sentences with “You” or “Your”; this allows the employer to see that you are wanting to work for them, not yourself. With a little research to discover what the company is seeking for that position, you can focus on the needs of your employer. Explain what you can do for them; don’t ask what they can offer you.
6. Originality Counts
Show employers that you can step out of typical boundaries and create your own ideas. Try to keep away from standard formatting and see what best suits you. Include details that, while perhaps not always included in the usual letter, can showcase your strengths.
The final step in writing a cover letter is to read and reread. Check for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. While writing a cover letter gives you an advantage over those who do not, a poorly written one will make you seem worse by comparison.
These 7 steps may seem obvious, but many people ignore them; put yourself ahead of the competition. Follow these suggestions and create the perfect cover letter.
Robert Moment is an author, business coach, and success strategist. He has successfully consulted with and advised hundreds of job seekers. His most recent e-book, “What Matters Most is Employment” (http://www.jobsearchrx.com) is a concise guide, packed with information and tips on finding and getting career–advancing employment in today’s job market.
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