Your cover letter is the first thing potential employers see and, therefore, it greatly impacts potential employers’ opinions of you. A perfect cover letter will entice the reader to continue on to your resume. A poorly written cover letter may mean your resume doesn’t get read at all. The following are five tips to help you write the perfect cover letter:
- Personalize your cover letter. Although it may be tempting to simply use a standard cover letter format that will work for most positions to which you’ll be applying, this will not get you noticed. Instead, include details about the position and the company that show you’ve done your research. State a specific reason you’d like to work for that company or congratulate them on a recent accomplishment. This shows the hiring manager that you’ve done your homework and are truly interested in the job.
- Hit the hot points. Be sure to touch upon the hot points the employer has listed in their job description. You don’t have to recapitulate the entire job description and your resume, but there are sure to be critical skill sets that the employer is looking for. As an example, if the job description you are responding to says the ideal candidate should have experience with penguins, briefly mention your work with the local penguin rescue. Basically, you want to let the reader know that you are exactly the candidate he or she has been looking for.
- Keep it brief. Your cover letter is the appetizer and your resume is the main course. You want to simply whet the reader’s appetite, not give them so much information that they’re stuffed before they even get to your resume.
- Drop names if you have them. If there is an employee who has recommended this position to you, be sure to mention that in your cover letter. When bombarded with dozens and dozens of resumes for a single position, those that come from employee referrals typically get reviewed first. An employee recommendation also lets the hiring manager know that this employee thinks you are potentially a good fit for the company, which is an added plus for you.
- Proofread your cover letter. If you want a perfect cover letter, you have to proofread it. A cover letter with scattered misspellings, misused punctuation, and poor grammar reflects poorly on you. Don’t simply rely on spell-check to catch all of your errors. In addition to not comprehensively catching punctuation errors, spell-check also won’t catch incorrect verb tenses, words that were used incorrectly, or many other types of errors. Get another person to proofread your cover letter, to ensure it’s perfect before you send it off.