10 Steps To Make Writing A Cover Letter A Snap

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There is still a lot of confusion about how to write an effective cover letter. Here are 10 easy steps to making the most of yours.
Cover letters still seem to be something that many job seekers have trouble with. Either they aren't sure what to write or they don't think that sending one is important. The truth is, when you are serious about your job search, writing a cover letter for every job you apply for is crucial. It is one of the simplest things you can do to make hiring managers actually read your resume. And, as you know, that is half of the battle right there.
A cover letter shows the reader that you read the job description, that you really want to be considered for this particular job and that you believe that you are a good fit for the job opening. Trust me, this will put you ahead of 80 percent of the other applicants.
Cover letters are very easy, but still, we all seem to have trouble with them. Here are 10 steps to make writing a cover letter a snap:
  1. Include a cover letter every time – You wouldn't send someone a blank email with just some files attached, so don't do this to a recruiter or hiring manager. You are asking them for a job, so at least give them a few reasons to consider you. Your cover letter should be a brief introduction followed by a quick summary of why you are someone they should take a look at.
  2. Write a new cover letter for each job – No one likes to receive a form letter. They are easy to spot and, I think that they do more harm than good. Remember that this is your first (and maybe only) chance to show a company what type of professional you are. Make that chance count by writing a cover letter for that specific company and job opening.
  3. Don't use a greeting like “Dear Sirs” - Many word processing templates for cover letters include this type of greeting as an example. Don't assume that the hiring manager is a man, or that they enjoy being called “Sir”. Unless you know for sure who is going to be reading your cover letter and resume, always open with something like “Hello,” or “Good Morning,”. Trust me, if you make this mistake and the hiring manager is a woman, you could risk irritating her before she even reads the first paragraph, and that isn't the way you want to start this process. Not only is it insulting to her, she could only assume that you are clueless about how to be professional and worry that you would offend her clients in the same manner.
  4. Keep a conversational tone – This isn't a formal business letter, at least not in the traditional sense. The reader needs to be able to get a sense of who you are. Don't use causal, non-professional language, but at the same time, keep your tone friendly. You don't have to impress them with your stellar vocabulary. Instead, just talk to them like a real person. You own personality will shine through.
  5. Keep it short – You aren't trying to write a novel. Three brief paragraphs is the standard for an effective cover letter. The goal of your cover letter is to provide a preview so that they will become interested in reading your resume.
  6. Mention which job you are applying for, and where you heard about the opening – Many time the human resources office has several openings at the same time. By letting them know which job you are applying for and where you saw the listing, it will avoid any confusion.
  7. Don't brag – There is a fine line between marketing yourself and just bragging. For example, instead of saying that you are perfect for the job, say that you think that you would be a great fit for the position. Just say why you think you are a good candidate and leave it up to them to decide who the perfect person for the job is.
  8. Mention any criteria that was listing in the job advertisement – If the job says the desired applicant has specific skills, mention that you have those skills. If they only want people who live in a certain area, mention that as well. This way, the reader will know right away that you have actually read their job listing.
  9. Sign your name – It can be hard to actually sign things online, but it's worth the effort. Even if you can't manage to use your actual signature, make sure that you use a signature line that includes your name and contact information.
  10. Proofread – This one is a biggie. Always proofread your cover letter (and your resume for that matter) several times. This is your first project for the company, so show them that you are someone who takes pride in their work and pays attention to details.
With a cover letter that shows who you are and why you are applying for the job, you can raise your odds of being asked for an interview and landing the job you really wanted.
Do you send out a cover letter every time? What other things do you think make a cover letter stand out? Let me know in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for FinancialJobBank. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.

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article posted by Staff Editor
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