Tips For Writing A Great Cover Letter

Good cover letters are as important as a good resume or a good interview. It is your first impression on your prospective employer, so you want to make it a very positive one.

Great Intro

When you are at a job interview, the first impression you make is extremely important, and likewise, when you write your cover letter, your opening sentence and introductory paragraph - your written first impression - is equally as important. After all, if your cover letter doesn't immediately stand out from the pack, your chances of even landing an interview are substantially lowered. Think about it this way: an author's goal when writing a book is to pull his readers in right from the beginning so that they are compelled to find out more by reading on. For you, your cover letter introduction should force its readers to be compelled to contact you for an interview. The last thing you want to do is start out with a boring, typical lead-in, like, "My name is John Smith, and I am writing in regards to the vacancy for a sales manager that I saw advertised in the Valley News." Lame! This kind of opening shows that you have zero originality and that to you, getting this job didn't mean enough to get creative. Instead, start out by zeroing in on why you are actually fit for the job. For example: "With a proven track record of excellence in the automotive sales industry and a leadership background that has spanned over a decade, I am confident that I would be a perfect fit for the sales manager position." You want to highlight the aspects of your experience and character that are the biggest qualifiers for you to get the job. You may be worried about coming off as arrogant and egotistical, but in reality you are just being self-assured and confident, and those are very attractive traits to a prospective employer. Also, the statements that you are making about yourself in the opening paragraph are not opinions; they are facts. If you are going to say that you have a "proven" track record, then you have to be able to prove it through examples in your career history. Your introductory paragraph should be an overview of your qualifications, but you shouldn't get into any detail until your second paragraph.

Get Down to Business

In your second and third paragraphs, you have to explain how your past experiences make you an ideal candidate for the position you are applying for. Look at the job description carefully, and find key qualifications that they are seeking. Make sure that you draw a link between your qualifications and each skill or quality they are seeking. For example, if the job description states that they are looking for someone who works well under pressure, describe a scenario in your career history when you have done this. If they are looking for someone who works well with others, describe a scenario in your history when your communication skills have been vital to completing a group task. These paragraphs are not for generalizations - you want to present your skills in a very clear, factual and deliberate way - explaining your actions will speak louder than using fancy words and enticing adjectives.

A Powerful Hook

The conclusion of your cover letter is vitally important to the impression you are going to leave on its readers. It's just like a first date - even if it has gone great all night, an awkward goodbye can spoil the whole thing. These are your parting words to your prospective employers before they delve into your resume, so you want to leave a good taste in their mouths. You should talk about your knowledge of their company - their reputation, their innovations, et cetera. You want them to know that you respect their company and what it stands for, and you want them to know that you have done your homework, and you weren't just sending out a bunch of carbon copy cover letters to a ton of prospective employers. Finally, your last sentence should be strong and persuasive. For example: "I implore you to contact me so that I can further convey my aptitude and enthusiasm for this highly desirable position."

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