Cover Letter Writing Tips
By Pat Kendall, NCRW
cover letter plays an important role in the job search, and if done
properly, it can substantially improve your ability to compete for jobs
and generate interviews. It adds a personal touch to your application
and shows employers that you are a serious, professional candidate.
addition, a well-written cover letter demonstrates your communication
and organizational skills by example and shows that you are the
type of candidate who is willing to go the extra mile. In this highly
competitive job market, the cover letter gives you a much needed edge
over other job seekers, because it gives you an opportunity to describe
how your specific skills and accomplishments uniquely qualify
you for the job.
are four key rules for cover letter writing:
Customize to Fit
Take the time to customize
your cover letter to fit the employer's requirements. Before you
start writing, review the criteria for the position and make a
list of what the employer wants. This list might include specific
areas of expertise, years of experience, technical knowledge,
transferable skills, and personality traits. Then, incorporate
these items into your letter, demonstrating by example that
you have the desired qualifications.
|Rule #2: Meet the Employer's Needs
the cover letter with the employer's needs in mind not
your own. Don't describe what YOU want, but explain what
you can do for the employer. Don't assume that the employer
will read between the lines of your resume and dig out the
relevant information. They won't. To get their attention,
you have to actively describe how you can meet their needs.
is written merely to
please the author
Actively Sell Yourself
them WHY they should hire you. Be assertive about your qualifications
without being egotistical. The tone of your letter should be professional,
but sound as if a real person wrote it in other words,
not too pretentious or formal. One way to judge your letter is
to read it out loud. Do you trip over the words? Does it sound
like an attorney wrote it? If so, work on it until it flows naturally
and has a conversational tone.
Keep it Simple
cover letters should be limited to one page, preferably 3-5
paragraphs. In addition, use job-appropriate language (not too
stuffy) and avoid pretentious phrases like those mentioned in
my Gallery of Pretentious Cover Letter
Letter Structure and Content
let's take a look at letter structure and content. In the first
paragraph, your objective is to get the reader's attention. Get
right to the point tell them why you are writing.
Here are some examples:
recent advertisement for a marketing manager caught my eye,
since my experience in --------, ---------, and -------
is very compatible with your requirements.
solid track record in sales should qualify me for the district
manager position described in your recent posting.
Find out what to
avoid when writing
your cover letter:
second paragraph should outline your qualifications for the position
and focus on the most relevant aspect(s) of your background (e.g., years
of experience, formal education, special training, technical skills,
current responsibilities, or highlights of earlier jobs).
best cover letters also include examples of accomplishments and quantifiable
results. If you're a salesperson, describe how you increased sales volume.
If you're a manager, explain how you cut costs and improved profits.
If you're a human resources professional, describe how you reduced employee
turnover or developed training programs that increased productivity.
In other words, show how you contributed to your previous employers'
background includes 15 years in sales management with accomplishments
in staff development, training and customer service. I am a skilled
team builder and have consistently met or exceeded sales goals in
each position held:
and developed million-dollar territory for XYZ Company.
up six key accounts for ABC Company.
sales increases of at least 25% in all positions.
but not least is the closing paragraph. This is where you:
a meeting or personal interview
that you will contact them to schedule a personal meeting
how they can reach you
them for taking the time to consider your application
Here are some examples:
I believe that I can make
positive contributions to ABC's bottom line and look forward to discussing
my capabilities in more detail. I am available for a personal interview
at your earliest convenience and may be reached after 5 p.m. at
the telephone number above. Thank you for your consideration.
would like to meet with you to discuss your opportunity in more
detail and will call next week to see when your schedule might allow
time for a brief meeting. Thank you for your time.
a great cover letter takes a bit of time and
patience, but it's important to get it right!
have made this letter longer
because I lack the time
to make it short.
P A S C A L
An Excerpt From
Your Online Job Search
Pat Kendall, All Rights Reserved
language may be the norm for legal correspondence, but it does
not impress the average employer and even worse, it makes
you sound pompous and stuffy. Avoid the following words and
phrases in your cover letter:
the same reasons, your letter should carefully project the proper
tone. For example, an aggressive writing style may be appropriate
for a sales representative, but is likely to turn off the employer
who wants to hire an accountant. The best results are obtained
when the writing style is concise and unpretentious.
employers with your
qualifications and relevant experience,
not with your
Your resume – and any additional information you provide on paper or through consultation –
is considered confidential and private. Names, addresses, and e-mails of clients
and prospective clients are "private" and not sold or traded.
Pat Kendall, NCRW