Job applicants who underestimate the importance of a cover letter may find themselves missing out on prime opportunities. Unless an employer specifically advertises that a cover letter is not necessary, plan to include one with your resume and application materials to show off your strengths and unique job skills. The key, though, is to make your letter stand out so you can prepare to say "yes" to your dream job offer.
Spend time during your job search analyzing the company's job description before writing your cover letter. Make note of keywords used several times throughout the advertisement, and use these industry terms in your application materials. Job applicants should also thoroughly search through the company's website to identify any frequently-used terms that are likely to catch a hiring manager's attention when reading through letters and resumes.
Focus on Skills
Whether you are changing fields or focusing on advancing to a leadership position, determine how your skills are transferable. For example, if you have management experience in one industry, highlight the character traits you developed in this position that are frequently desired in the new industry, such as the ability to motivate employees, troubleshoot problems and evaluate staff. When writing your cover letter, list skills that are relevant to your new position to show that you are the most qualified candidate.
Adhere to a Consistent Format
Hiring managers should see a consistent format when reading through your cover letter. Avoid using script font or fonts that are difficult to read. Utilize enough white between each line, and format with consistent lines or bolded text and bullets to make your relevant skills and experience stand out.
Stick to a Structure
A cover letter should have three primary sections. An opening paragraph should clarify the position you are applying for and use language directly from the job advertisement. Your introduction should also detail why you are applying for the position. Spend time during your job search brainstorming your motivation for entering this field to help you craft a creative opening.
Focus on your skills related to the job in your second paragraph. Offer examples of your achievements in previous positions. Provide specific examples, including information about important deadlines you met, satisfied clients or in-house campaigns you led.
Close out your letter with a final section that explains how you can meet the needs of the company. Although you need to sell your skills and experience, hiring managers also need to know how the business would benefit from your contributions.
Complete your cover letter with a closing statement that expresses your eagerness to meet your potential employer in person. Let your enthusiasm and professionalism shine through when crafting your letter so that your application materials land in the hiring pile.
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