POSTED ON

5 Nov 2018

You have a well-crafted resume, you answer interview questions with complete confidence, and all online social accounts represent you positively. How’s your cover letter? Can you give it the same glowing compliments?

Writing a good cover letter can be quite the struggle, that’s why many applicants make the mistake of neglecting their cover letter advice and focusing all their time and energy on their resume instead. For your sake, don’t be like them.

While your resume may showcase your credentials, it’s your cover letter writing that convinces hiring managers that you are worth contacting and scheduling an interview for.

There’s only so much you can do with your resume, and you need your cover letter to ‘cover the bases’ so to speak, so you’ll stand out from the crowd instead of mix into the heap. Take a look at these 10 essential ingredients of a highly effective cover letter.

1. A sweeping intro

Too many resumes start off with the job applicant’s name and the reason for applying (My name is John Doe and I’m applying for the job position I saw advertised online, etc.). While it’s perfectly fine to begin your cover letter this way, it’s utterly boring and doesn’t quite grab the reader’s attention.

To make your effective cover letter interesting from the get-go, start by stating why the company should choose you over other qualified applicants. Rather than using the example above, you might want start with, “With over 10 years of experience in the industry, I trust that I have the talent and skill-sets needed to excel at this job.”

2. A fantastic sales pitch

People usually consider a cover letter as an introduction to themselves and their resume. However, your letter will serve you better if you think of it as a way to sell yourself. The purpose isn’t to brag, but prove that you’re the right candidate for the job.

Think of yourself as a brand, and after grabbing their attention with your intro, keep them interested by directly stating the value that you bring to the table.

3. Company knowledge

Learn as much as you can about the company and incorporate key pieces of information into your cover letter. This tells the hiring manager that you’ve done your research, consider yourself a good fit for the company, and are serious about working for them.

As you do your research, think about the problems that the company is trying to solve by hiring you.

For instance, if you’re applying for a marketing position, it means they don’t think their current marketing campaigns are up to snuff, and they’re looking for someone who can elevate their strategies to the next level. Make it clear how you can make that happen in the body of your cover letter.

4. Unique content

Many people treat their cover letter writing as the paragraph version of their resume. Instead of regurgitating information that you’ve already mentioned, use your cover letter to expand on things that are not detailed in your resume. Identify as many tangible and intangible reasons stating why you’re the perfect person for the job.

If there’s anything in your resume that warrants an explanation, such as an employment gap or a drastic career change, your cover letter writing can be the perfect avenue to provide clarification for these.

5. Company-focused

You applied for the job. This means hiring managers are already aware that you’re interested in the position. Thus, you don’t need to waste a sentence stating how badly you want to be hired.

Focus your letter on what you can do for the company and specify how they can benefit from hiring you. Review every line you write and make sure they all relate to the job description. Avoid going on unrelated tangents.

6. Concise

You don’t need your cover letter to fill a whole page. In fact, half a page or even less will do. Limit your cover letter to just three paragraphs max. Avoid lengthy expositions and anecdotes, and jump right into the nitty-gritty.

7. Addressed to a Specific Person

More often than not, you don’t know exactly who will be receiving your application. This doesn’t mean you should just go with the bland and generic "Dear Hiring Manager" or "To Whom It May Concern." If you know someone in the company, ask them if they know to whom you should address the cover letter to.

Or you could shoot the Customer Service department an email, saying something like, “I’m applying for an available sales position in your company, and don’t know to whom I should address my cover letter.

Can you tell me the name of the person in charge of receiving your applications?”

8. Smart use of hyperlinks

Assuming you’re sending your application online, hyperlinks are handy items to include in both your resume and cover letter, as they save the reader time locating the extra information that you want them to see.

The most important thing to remember when hyperlinking is to showcase your best work, along with projects that are highly relevant to the job you’re applying for. And never use long URL strands. Again, you want your resume to be concise, and long URLs defeat the purpose.

9. Keyword optimized

You’ve done your research about the company, haven’t you? That means you have a good idea of the keywords and phrases that are relevant to the position. Weave these keywords and phrases organically into your letter. Make the hiring manager believe that you ‘know the lingo’ and are familiar with the position’s different aspects.

10. Call-to-Action

A good sales message ends with an effective call-to-action. If this were a typical sales letter, your call-to-action would naturally be asking the reader to buy your product, but as a cover letter, your desired action is to have the hiring manager call you for an interview. Use words that would compel the reader to act.

Rather than the passive “looking forward to hearing from you,” take a more active approach, such as saying that you’re “excited to meet and discuss solutions to help the company grow.”

Note: After you are finished with your cover letter, it's time to work on your resume. Before you start to work on your resume/cv, get free resume review done by our professional resume writers.

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