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June 27, 2016

7 Painless Tips On Writing A Job-Winning Cover Letter

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Tips on Writing a Job-Winning Cover Letter

Peggy McKee, Career Confidential

Do you hate writing cover letters? Most people do. However, employers expect to see a cover letter with your resume. They read your letter and form impressions of you as a candidate based on what they read. A bad cover letter (or a lack of one at all) can cause you to lose the chance to interview.

The good news is that it's easier than you think to write a cover letter that gives them a very positive first impression, makes you stand out from other candidates and gets you an interview.

Tip 1: Use Your Cover Letter To Begin Selling Yourself For The Job

The job search itself is psychologically a sales process, and this cover letter is the very first ad that will grab attention and interest - even before they read your resume. The employer is a customer in this process, and just like with any customer, you have to get their attention by talking about what THEY need and what THEY are interested in. "I am very excited to speak with you about this job" is not nearly as attractive as "I am excited to speak with you about how I helped my last company triple sales."

Tip 2: Target Your Letter

This cover letter should apply only for this job. Don't try to use the same letter for each opportunity - it won't work. That doesn't mean that you can't use elements of a good letter for multiple opportunities. It just means that you should have this particular job, at this particular company in mind when you put together your letter.

Tip 3: Remember That You Are Writing To A Person

This is one of the reasons that generic, formal letters fall flat. If you would not be interested in reading an overly formal, stilted piece of prose, chances are that the hiring manager (your future boss) won't, either. Be professional, but use your own voice and inject some personality in your letter.

Tip 4: Build Your Letter With 3 Paragraphs

  • 1st paragraph Introduction
Say what job you're interested in and why they should be interested in talking to you about it.
  • 2nd paragraph Evidence
This paragraph is where you highlight some of the most significant things you've done. Do yourself a favor and use bullet points here.
  • 3rd paragraph Close
Don't just say that you're looking forward to hearing from them. Tell them when you'll call to follow up. Usually, this would be in a day or two.

Tip 5: Quantify The Evidence Of Your Accomplishments

To quantify means to describe in terms of numbers, dollars, or percentages. This is a powerful attention-getter for employers. Numbers break up the expanse of text, and numbers don't lie.

So, instead of saying that you reduced operating costs, say that you reduced operating costs by 30% or whatever it was. That will grab their attention.

Tip 6: Use Spell-Check AND Proofread

Don't rely on spell-check. I've had it suggest some words that were absolutely wrong, and it doesn't catch everything. Use spell-check at a beginning. Then proofread it, and then have someone else proofread it, too. This is your first impression. Don't let something as simple as a typo ruin their image of you as a competent professional.

Tip 7: Don't Email Your Cover Letter As An Attachment

If you are emailing your resume to an employer, the resume will be attached to the email. The cover letter should never be attached. If you attach it, all your work will be wasted. Use your cover letter as the body of the email that you then attach your resume to.

Peggy McKee is an expert resource and dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the CEO and Sales Recruiter of Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs gives her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition.

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