How to Write a Winning Cover Letter

Need tips on writing a good cover letter? Read on to discover the crucial ingredients of a good cover letter for resumes.

How to Format a Cover Letter That Gets Attention

My definition of a successful cover letter is: the one that gets the reader to open your resume. Nothing less!

The cartoon “letter” to the right, however, will not get your resume read.

These days a “cover letter” is really the email you send the prospective employer with your resume attached. Before you write the letter, ask yourself this question:

What do I need to say in this letter that will interest the reader enough to open my resume?

Tips on Writing a Cover Letter: 6 Important Things to Remember:

  1. Keep it short. No more than 2-3 very short paragraphs. They won’t read anything longer – and you want them to spend time on your resume, not the letter.
  2. Use the person’s name. Do research to find the hiring manager’s name (Ms or Mr.). If all else fails, write Dear Sir or Madam. This may sound Victorian (it probably is), but it’s better than To Whom It May Concern.
  3. Choose 1-2 key points from the job description to highlight in your cover letter. This will grab their attention.
  4. Mention a personal referral in the first sentence. If you’re lucky enough to have a personal connection to this employer, mention the individual’s name in the very first sentence. For example: Dear Ms. Jones, John Sullivan suggested that I contact you in reference to the sales manager position…. If you can do this, your resume automatically goes in the “to be considered pile” (unless she doesn’t like Mr. Sullivan).
  5. Show enthusiasm for the job. People want to read and hear about your interest in the job. Don’t forget to be enthusiastic in your personal interviews – but don’t go overboard.
  6. End professionally and simply, using “Sincerely”, your name and contact information, including phone number.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the cover letter. It should be short, powerful and to-the-point. If your letter is good, your resume will be read. If your resume is strong, you’ll likely get a personal interview. These are all steps leading to successful employment!

Read more about how to make sure your resume is one that will get read:

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