Nuts and Bolts of Effective Cover Letters

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As a job seeker, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of a cover letter. When written strategically it increases your chances for consideration and provides an opportunity to highlight your individuality.

A cover letter is much more than stating, “I read the job announcement on ABC Job Board, please accept this letter as an application of interest”. It’s a statement that tells the reader what they can expect from you if hired while also providing reasons you are interested in working for their organization specifically.

The challenging part is determining what information to include. After all, all the juicy information is outlined on the resume. What could you possibly add to the cover letter that will add substance to your qualifications?

Keep in mind that the resume and the letter have different purposes. A resume demonstrates that you can do the job, it highlights your past accomplishments, while a cover letter points out the extent to which you match the job requirements for a specific a company and how you will fit in.

A well-written letter gives you an advantage over your competition because it provides another opportunity to showcase your experience and qualifications.

Cover letter basics can be mastered by following the pointers below.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

A cover letter is more than just a business letter; it is a sales letter. Begin with a strong introduction, layout the benefits you offer and establish credibility by showcasing your accomplishments.

Write as you speak.

Use a professional conversational tone, but sound as though a real person wrote it. Many people fall into the trap of using big words to communicate and the writing comes off as stilted. Instead, write in a straightforward manner that entices the reader to review the resume. The words you choose should demonstrate enthusiasm for the position, company, and industry.

Write from the reader’s perspective.

Action words should not be reserved for the resume. Begin as many sentences with a power word. Don’t use a passive voice. Since it’s a cover letter, it’ll be impossible avoid using “I” as a sentence starter once in a while, but be mindful of your usage and limit it to just a few. If you have four sentences in a row starting with the letter “I”, mix it.

Don’t rehash your resume.

Be creative when presenting your qualifications and accomplishments. You don’t want to bore the reader by simply repeating the information you included in your resume. Find different ways to communicate the same message. The best way to do this is by selecting three to five major selling points and highlighting them in the body of the cover letter. Doing so will entice the reader to do more than just glance at your resume.

You should use every tool at your disposal to secure an interview. Targeted cover letters add to your portfolio of qualifications and deserve as much consideration as a resume.

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