If you are searching for a job, a well-written cover letter is essential. Many employers receive hundreds of applications for just one opening, creating a very crowded applicant pool. Your cover letter has the potential to elevate your application above those of other applicants, improving your chances of getting a job. If you aren't sure what to include in your cover letter, look at cover letter templates for some ideas.
The first part of your cover letter should include a professional greeting and a strong opening paragraph. Instead of addressing your letter to "Dear Sir or Madam," contact the company to find out who is in charge of reviewing applications for your desired job. If the company won't release that information, address the letter to "Dear Recruiter" or "Dear Hiring Manager."
The hiring manager is going to pay the most attention to your first paragraph, so focus on writing an attention-getting introduction. Explain how your skills would be an asset to the company, or talk about how you would be a good fit for the company's culture. If you aren't sure how to word your introduction, look at several cover letter templates for examples. When you are ready to move on to the next paragraph, use an information hierarchy to organize the content of your cover letter. This means you should put the most important information at the top of the page.
Your cover letter also needs to include relevant keywords in case the employer uses applicant-tracking software to screen applications. Keywords are the phrases employers use to identify candidates who match the requirements of a job opening. Look at sample cover letters to determine the best keywords to use in your letter. Be sure to include keywords that describe your soft skills as well as your technical skills, education and professional certifications. If you are struggling to find the right keywords, use your favorite search engine to look up a list of resume keywords related to your industry.
Don't hurt your chances of getting a job by using the same information from your resume in your cover letter. The two documents should have some similarities, but your cover letter needs to be more persuasive. A hiring manager isn't necessarily going to take the time to see how the skills and experience on your resume relate to the job opening, so you need to connect those dots in your cover letter. Explain how hiring you would benefit the company in terms of cost savings or improved efficiency. Once you finish writing your cover letter, proofread it several times to ensure it does not contain any mistakes.
Writing a cover letter is a difficult task, but there are plenty of resources available to help you. If you get stuck, search the Web for sample cover letters. You shouldn't copy the letters word-for-word, but you can use the samples to get ideas for your own cover letter.
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