Tips and Advice for Writing Cover Letters That Will Get You Noticed

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Your resume is, of course, extremely important when you're applying for a job, but cover letters are just as key and should not be an afterthought. 

Every cover letter you write should be customized for the specific job you are seeking. It must be clearly written and concise, as well as free from any typos, grammatical errors, or misspelled names. Remember, people often read your cover letter before your resume. It's your opportunity to make a good first impression and also show why you are a great candidate for a job.

Here are tips and suggestions for your cover letter that will help you stand out from the crowd and get you one step closer to a job offer.

Send a Customized Cover Letter Each Time

Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored. Your cover letter is your first opportunity to create a relationship with the person who is doing the hiring. Even if an employer doesn't request a cover letter, it's helpful to send one.

Target Your Cover Letter

Take a good look at the job posting and make a list of the criteria the employer is looking for. Then list the skills and experience you have that correlates to what the employer is seeking. This is not cheating. It's simply being smart enough to target your skills to the job. Be sure to address how your skills match the job requirements.

Remember, a successful cover letter shows a potential employer how you'll benefit the company. Why you want the job and why it's a good fit for you are less important considerations for hiring managers. See more on creating a targeted cover letter.

Don't Rehash Your Resume

Your cover letter should complement, not duplicate, your resume. It should expand upon your resume and highlight your skills and experience and how they relate to the job you're applying for.

Format Your Letter Properly

Your formatting will be slightly different if you're sending your letter through the mail, uploading it to an application portal, or sending it via email. Here's more information on how to format a cover letter.

All cover letters are structured into three basic sections. In the first paragraph, you'll say why you're writing. Mention the specific job title and where you saw the posting. In the middle section, you'll establish what makes you a good candidate, referencing relevant experience and skills. Finally, in the third section of a cover letter, you'll thank the letter recipient for reading. You can also share details on how you'll follow up.

Write Simply and Clearly

Write a short, targeted letter by getting right to the point. No one has time for an epic novel, so keep your cover letter to one page. Also, make sure each paragraph has no more than three or four sentences. If you want, you can opt to use bullet points to break up chunks of text. Just make sure they do not duplicate your resume. 

Avoid cliches in your cover letter, and while it is a formal piece of correspondence, it shouldn't sound stilted, stiffor unnatural. 

Personalize Your Letter

If you can, address your cover letter to the individual who is doing the hiring. If necessary, conduct some online research to find out who the hiring manager is. SearchLinkedIn or find the Contact or About Us section of a company's website. You could try calling the company to find out. This is not being pushy. The hiring manager will respect you for taking the initiative.

Use Email for Cover Letters

When you email a cover letter, make sure your letter is short. Include the copy in the body of the email message. Don't send a cover letter as an attachment unless the employer specifically requests it in that format.

Keep copies of all your cover letters so you trackwhat you sent to whom. That way, if you get a request for an interview, you can look back at your cover letters to know what you already mentioned. 

Spell Check and Proofread

Before you send the cover letter, ask someone to read it and review it for typos. It's difficult noticing mistakes in our own writing because we are so close to it. If you're alone and need to proofread your own work, you can try a few techniques to catch errors: change the font style, copythe text into another document, or read the document backward (bottom to top). 

Always double-check that you have the company name, the job title and department, and your contact's name spelled correctly. These are particularly embarrassing errors. Follow these proofreading tips for job seekers

Cover Letter Examples

Review cover letters examples, both written and email, that are designed for a variety of job applications and employment inquiries.