Because the cover letter is usually the first thing a hiring manager sees, it serves as the primary enticement to keep going and read your resume. For this reason, it's wise to spend as much time perfecting your cover letter as you would your resume. You need to consider the format of a cover letter and how you can use it to stand out. These cover letter tips will help you do just that.
Specific to the job
If the flow and format of a cover letter make it seem like the document could accompany an application for any job, it is unlikely to get you an interview. Hiring managers want an idea of why you would be right for this position and company, so demonstrate how your strengths and accomplishments match the job requirements.
You should also address your letter to the specific hiring manager rather than using a generic introduction. If you don't know the person's name, call the company to find out.
In addition, research the firm by reading industry publications, searching online and talking to members of your professional network. You can then demonstrate your knowledge of the firm as you explain how your skills and background are a fit. Following these cover letter tips will reassure hiring managers that you are interested in their specific company.
Check out these additional job hunting tips from Robert Half.
Format of a cover letter
Avoid rehashing your resume in the cover letter. Look at your cover letter and resume as separate but related documents. They should complement one another without being overly repetitive. Although you will undoubtedly need to mention past positions, employers or experiences in your introductory note, use slightly different wording and a more conversational style than you would typically use in a resume.
If the position for which you're applying calls for a professional who is "highly organized" and has "exceptional communication skills" and you possess these skills, use some of the same language in your cover letter.
Also keep in mind that your letter doesn't have to be lengthy to be effective. Three or four short paragraphs is usually sufficient. To achieve the most compelling format of a cover letter, construct it as you would a typical business letter.
Importance of proofreading
Finally, be sure to proofread. Carefully review your cover letter for flow and proper grammar. Ask others to proofread and critique it as well. No hiring manager wants to see a great cover letter spoiled by a punctuation error or typo.
These cover letter tips should assist you in creating an introductory document that will make a favorable impression on an employer and increase your chances of getting called for an interview.
More cover letter tips
- Ready for Some Bad Advice? 3 Common Cover Letter Tips to Ignore
- Red Flags on Your Resume? Craft a Cover Letter to Address Them
- WorkVine: The Danger of Using a Cover Letter Template