What You Need For An Effective Cover Letter

Your cover letter is your chance to showcase how your skills and achievements make you the best applicant for a job. Keep in mind the goal of your cover letter (packaged with your resume) is to get an interview with the hiring manager. Your cover letter will compete with many other applicants and each letter has only a few seconds to make a good impression. If you struggle with writing an effective cover letter, you’re not alone. Most job seekers find cover letter writing challenging.

Here are six tips to help you write the perfect cover letter.

Use an easy-to-read font
Make sure you use an easy-to-read font for both your resume and cover letter. Your cover letter is so much more about content and purpose than design. You are communicating with another human being who is very busy. Script and cursive fonts are hard to read and will annoy prospective employers. Let the words on the page communicate your personality, not the formatting.

Keep it short
Keep your cover letter short and no longer than one page. Cover letters that are longer than a page send the wrong message to recruiters and hiring managers. Be concise. Long cover letters suggest you’re unable to get to the point. They also imply that you may care more about yourself than about others’ busy schedules.

Include language from the job description
I see people get this wrong all the time. Your cover letter and resume isn’t about convincing a company to hire you, it’s about demonstrating why you’re a good fit for the role. Job postings describe what the company needs. Read the details closely, gain an understanding of what the company is looking for. They have a problem to solve and if you can align your skills and achievements with the language used in the job description it shows the recruiter or hiring manager how you can meet the company’s needs.

It’s common for hiring managers or recruiters to be juggling multiple positions so don’t forget to include the job title that you’re applying for. It’s likely that your resume/application will be processed by an applicant tracking system (ATS) so including keywords or phrases that are also found in the job description will increase your chances of having it end up on the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s desk.

Sell yourself and show your personality
It’s important to show you’re confident in your skills and abilities within your cover letter. However, be sure you don’t go overboard. You don’t want to come across as boastful and arrogant. Showing a little personality in your letter is fine. You won’t get a response if you’re stiff and formal, but don’t make the mistake of being too informal. Striking the right balance is tough. If you’re not sure what words to use, err on the formal side.

Focus on the content
Most job seekers struggle with what should be in the body of the cover letter. Here are some things to consider:

  • Share more information about certain parts of your resume that are very relevant to the job for which you are applying.
  • Mention if you have an interest or subject matter expertise that makes you a good fit.
  • Highlight your relevant experience and skills and explain how they will benefit the company.
  • If someone at the company has requested your resume, start your cover letter with that information.

Pay attention to detail
It may go without saying, but proofread your cover letter carefully and then do it again. After you’re proofread your resume and cover letter twice, do it again! I’ve been amazed by how often I’ve read resumes with poor spelling or inaccurate/irrelevant information. Make absolutely sure your letter is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Nothing kills your chances faster than demonstrating a lack of detail. Also, double-check to make sure all the following are correct: company name, contact name and job title, date (month and year) at the top of the letter. Invest the time in your cover letter to make it clear that you have researched the company, the position and who the hiring manager is.

As you create your cover letter, remember that it’s your personal introduction to potential employers. You only have a few moments to make a lasting impression so take the time to make it count.

If you liked this post, share it with a friend. If I’ve missed something or you have thoughts to share, would love to hear from you. Thanks!

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