Sometimes, a solid resume isn't enough to get your foot in the door. A cover letter lets you elaborate on the facts listed on your resume, and it helps you to connect with the hiring manager on a deeper level. However, if you're not careful, a cover letter can do more harm than good. Here are some tips to help you create a cover letter that grabs the hiring manager's attention in a positive way.
1. Keep It Short
Your cover letter should be straightforward. After sifting through many resumes and cover letters, the hiring manager isn't going to want to read multiple pages. Don't restate all of your skills and experience -- that's what your resume is for. Use your cover letter to talk more about yourself, your goals and what you plan to bring to the organization.
2. Add Personality
Your cover letter gives you a chance to show your human side. Hiring managers want someone who will fit in with the company's culture and get along with the other employees. Be professional, but also be yourself. Think of your cover letter as the document that introduces and sells you to employers before the interview.
3. Formatting Matters
Nobody is going to attempt to read through a long, clumsy block of text. If you want to find a job, you must provide attractive, professional resumes and cover letters. Keep your paragraphs short, and make every sentence matter. Use an attractive font, and make sure your cover letter is as easy to read as possible -- both on the computer and in paper form.
The worst thing you can do is hand in a cover letter rife with spelling and grammar errors. Use the spell check on your word processor to check for errors, but don't depend solely on it. After you finish your cover letter, wait an hour and read it again. Send it out to friends, family members, and colleagues, and ask them to review it for you.
5. Cater It to the Organization
It's important to recognize your audience when applying for employment. If you're applying to work in a casual environment such as a bar or surf shop, a more informal cover letter could work to your advantage. If you're trying to land a position in a corporate office, professionalism is paramount.
6. Do Your Homework
Your cover letter should prove that you're looking for more than just a salary. Spend time learning about the organization, the products or services offered, the company's philosophies and its overall culture. Your cover letter should sound like you already belong there. You can even review the company's website and social media profiles and use similar language in your cover letter.
If you want to find a job you love, use all resources and tools available to you. Also, don't send the same letter to every employer. Adjust your cover letter for each position. The process might be time-consuming, but the payoff is worth it.
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