The Art of Writing a Good Cover Letter

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By: Jill Thompson

The Art of Writing a Good Cover Letter

Are cover letters still relevant?  This question comes up a lot and for now, the answer is still yes. If you find yourself in a job search, knowing how to craft a solid cover letter will pay off. Think of a cover letter as your secondary marketing piece, to be paired with your resume. You want to give your potential employer every reason to hire you, leaving little room to question but just enough to keep them intrigued.

Many companies will ask for them when they post a job, but even when they don’t ask, a compelling cover letter can be the reason your resume gets moved to the top of the pile.

The intent of a cover letter is to get the recruiter or hiring manager to WANT to read your resume and bring you in for an interview. You want to hook the reader into wanting to know more about you.  So, how do your write a strong cover letter?

  1. Keep it short. Your cover letter should be no longer than ¾ of a page. Be sensitive to the fact that hiring managers don’t have time to read a long one and keep your writing points concise.
  2. The Salutation is important: Most people default to Dear Sir/Madam or Dear Hiring Manager. Try using Google or LinkedIn to find the actual name of the hiring manager.  Going the extra mile never hurt, and adding this component makes your cover letter seem much more personalized.
  3. Keep the letter to 3 Paragraphs, the Introduction, The Body, and the Closing:
    1. Intro: State what job title you are applying for, where you saw the job advertised (LinkedIn, a job board) and of course, include why you are applying for the job.  For example –I bring an in-depth knowledge of blank, blank, and blank, that your company may find valuable. 
    2. Body: Highlight your accomplishments and how you will add value to the company. Use bullets or numbered lists to help the reader quickly scan the document.  You can also use a t-account or column format to organize the requirements being asked for vs. your qualifications.
    3. Closing – Call to action. Re-state your interest in the role, ask for an interview and tell them when you are available to talk.
  4. Always customize your cover letter to the job requirements. If you read a job description and know you are a great fit for the job, do your best to make the reader EASILY see how interested you are and how much you can contribute to the company or organization. Connect the dots for them. Don’t make them guess why you are applying for their job.
  5. There should be no spelling or grammar mistakes. Enough said.

Your cover letter should explain what you can do for the company and not what you are looking to gain. The trick is to give the reader a view into your background that will entice them to learn more!

Good luck writing your next cover letter. The career coaches at ICC would love to hear tips that have worked for you! For more information, please visit the ICC website at innovateicc.com.

 

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