How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter
Skylar Wooden and Katie Butler
January 29, 2017
Does the thought of writing a cover letter exhaust you?
Your job search doesn’t have to be a grueling experience. Submitting a cover letter will put you ahead of the applicants who didn’t take the time to write one. But (there’s always a but) did it make you stand out from the others who DID submit cover letters? With the right tools and a little guidance, making your letter stand out can be a breeze.
Each cover letter you write is a unique conversation between you and the recruiter. No one likes to be in a boring conversation; for the same reasons, no one wants to read a boring cover letter—much less hire the person to have future conversations.
Psst! We’ve written a cover letter template if you need a place to start.
Here we have tips to writing the perfect cover letter that no recruiter can overlook:
Your introduction paragraph is arguably the most important part of your cover letter. This will determine if the employer will read on to know more about you. A few key steps will ensure the hiring manager doesn’t file your letter in the trash.
- Spell check the company name and the hiring manager’s name
- Mention where you found the job ad (their website, Indeed.com, an employee of the company, etc.)
- Introduce your next paragraphs
Above and Beyond the Resumé
You’ve covered the bare bones in the resumé—now it’s time to highlight the most important. On a resumé, you showcase your education, experience, and skills; however, in your cover letter, you have the opportunity to dig into what would make you an asset.
The recruiter can easily skim your resumé and see that you have a degree in biology. They cannot, however, see that you learned time management skills as head of your lab group. Think of the resumé as your term paper: covering all necessary points with the necessary amount of information. Now, think of your cover letter as your presentation: the necessary information with focus on the points you find most interesting.
The Importance of Keywords
Choose keywords in the job ad to illustrate that you fit the role.
If you were to see a job ad that lists requirements like these:
“Dedication to providing exceptional customer service. Exceptional team building capability. Excellent time management and organizational skills.”
Your cover letter should emphasize the words Customer Service, Team Building, and Organizational Skills.
Keep an Eye on Your “I”s
After you’ve written your letter, go back through it and circle or highlight your “I”s. How many times have you started a sentence with “I am…” or “ I have…” or “I believe…”?
While a cover letter is essentially all about you, you should focus more on what you can do for them. It is perfectly okay to say, “I attended XYZ University,” but don’t overuse it. For example, if you go back through your cover letter and see the sentence:
I have experience with…
Try replacing it with:
My experience in…has taught me…
Stay on track
Tangents can get you in trouble. Stay on topic and don’t lose focus of what you want to highlight. You have one page; use it to the fullest. This is a time to briefly mention:
My experience in the study abroad program will…
This is not the time to discuss, at length:
My experience in the study abroad program changed my life…
Cover letters are the most underestimated and misunderstood job materials. We hope we’ve uncovered some of the mystery for you, but if you need some help getting the bare bones and formatting, we’ve created a cover letter template for you.
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