While it's tempting to believe that your resume is all that matters for getting a job interview, hiring managers really do read your cover letter. In fact, your cover letter can be a key element to separate you from the rest of the applicants. Here are some tips on how to write a cover letter that gets you noticed.
Grab Attention in the First Line
Open with your accomplishments or your connection to the company. Your first sentence is key in grabbing a hiring manager's attention, so don't waste it. If you were referred by someone within the company, mention it here. If you have a personal story to tell regarding your relationship with the company, start it immediately. Never start a cover letter by providing your name and the position you're applying for.
Don't Copy Your Resume
Your cover letter is an introduction to your resume and in fact is likely to be attached to your resume throughout the hiring process, so don't waste space repeating items from your resume in your cover letter. Instead use your cover letter to introduce yourself as a person and to make a human connection to the reader.
Forget what your mom told you about how it's rude to brag. Now is the time to boast about your accomplishments. Tell sentence-long stories about your experiences that illustrate how you're the perfect fit for the position for which you're applying. Be unashamed about promoting yourself in your cover letter. It should go without saying that this is not the time to discuss your weaknesses.
Target Your Letter
Because there are no generic jobs, you should never send a generic cover letter. Rewrite your cover letter for each job you apply for, tweaking it to highlight the ways in which you are an ideal candidate.
Keep the Letter Brief
A cover letter is an introduction, not an essay. Get to the point immediately, and sign off as soon as you can. You're not trying to tell your whole life story or to get the employer to hire you based on your cover letter. You're only trying to get your foot in the door for an interview. Keep your letter to a maximum of three paragraphs, with plenty of white space on the page.
Give a last glance at every cover letter you write to make sure nothing sounds as if you cut and pasted it from your resume or from another cover letter. Every sentence of your cover letter should be aimed at getting you noticed and at persuading the hiring manager to call you in for an interview. Start strong, promote yourself well and end strong, and you can expect the phone to start ringing.
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