5 Actionable Tips for Designing the Perfect Cover Letter

When you’re in the market for a new job, a great cover letter is essential. Your cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager will see, making it your opportunity to introduce yourself and demonstrate why you’re the right person for the position. If your cover letter is generic or simply doesn’t impress the hiring manager, then chances are they won’t even look at your resume. Their time is limited and they’re likely receiving dozens or even hundreds of applicants.

Crafting the perfect cover letter doesn’t need to be an impossible task. Follow these five tips to immediately improve your cover letters.

1. Research the Company and the Position

The best cover letters are tailored to the company and the position, which means the more you know about those, the better. Spend some time reading about the company, its recent accomplishments and the job listing.

Look for items you can reference in your letter – perhaps a recent accomplishment of the company that impressed you and made you want to work for them. This will help your cover letter stand out from those that could have been sent to any company.

2. Compare Your Skills to the Required Qualifications

You should already know what skills you bring to the table. List those along with the company’s desired qualifications for the position to see where there’s overlap.

Those overlapping areas should make up the bulk of your cover letter so you can show the company how you fit the mold it’s looking for. Of course, you’ll want to focus on areas where you’ve proven to excel, either from training or previous job experience.

3. Outline Your Cover Letter

Once you know what areas you’re going to focus on, you can start putting your cover letter together. The simplest and most effective way to write a professional letter is to start with an outline. This gives your cover letter structure so you’re not just figuring that out as you go.

A cover letter template is a handy tool for preparing your cover letter, and it saves you the trouble of outlining it yourself. There are some pretty neat websites available on the Internet such as Microsoft, Hloom, etc. sharing hundreds of cover letter templates for all kinds of positions, along with helpful information on writing a cover letter.

4. Be Specific

Specificity is key when it comes to cover letters. You need to keep the hiring manager’s attention, and generic phrases won’t do that.

Start by addressing the hiring manager who will be reading your letter. If you don’t have this information, get it, because “To Whom It May Concern” and other nonspecific openings show you weren’t willing to go the extra mile and find out who you were contacting.

Hiring managers like to see concrete data, not vague allusions to your skills. Let’s say you’re applying for a sales position. Mentioning how your sales average was 33 percent higher than the department average at a previous position is much more effective than simply mentioning you have sales experience.

5. End It with a Call to Action

A cover letter should always end with a call to action, which is what you want the reader to do after finishing the letter. The call to action is a powerful tool that’s used all the time during the sales process – you’ve probably seen infomercials that end with “call and place your order today!”

With a cover letter, you’re selling yourself, and making the sale consists of getting an interview. So, you’ll want a call to action that mentions coming in for an interview and includes your contact information. To make it easy for the hiring manager, provide both your phone number and your email address.

Writing an effective cover letter is a skill, and it takes some time to develop. Fortunately, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Once you’ve learned the nuances of writing one, you’ll be able to efficiently create cover letters that give you the best chance at landing a job interview. After that, it’s all about nailing the interview so you get the job.

Guest article written by: Helen Cartwright is a passionate blogger, who excels in the Digital Marketing and Technology niche. When not wired in marketing strategies she ghost-write for a variety of authors who have their work published on leading online media channels such as The Huffington Post and Entrepreneur.com.

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