Developing Your Career

Don’t Skip a Cover Letter: 5 Tips to Improve Effectiveness

By Greg Simpson on July 16, 2012

The cover letter is still a necessary step in the job search process.  It is often a hiring manager or recruiter’s first impression of you.  While not every cover letter will be read, it’s a mistake to discount the value and skip it entirely.  It’s also a missed opportunity if you don’t take the time to do it right.

There are two fatal flaws related to cover letters, according to Alison Green in a recent AskAManager.org blog. First, the job seeker doesn’t send one. And second, the cover letter merely repeats information in the resume.

You need to develop a cover letter that commands attention, demonstrates that you actually read the job posting, makes a good impression and persuades the reader that you have the skills required for the position. The cover letter provides an introduction to your experience as it relates to the position for which you’re applying.

Use the following tips to help you develop a good cover letter:

  • Steer clear of sending the same generic letter to everyone; customize yours for every specific position by including a personalized salutation, details about the position and the name of the company.
  • Make your case quickly and directly by using bullets to highlight key accomplishments and why you’re the best candidate.
  • Convey energy and enthusiasm through your language – not through multiple exclamation marks.
  • Project confidence without arrogance. Opening lines like “Your search stops here!” are a turn off.
  • Consider placing your cover letter in the body of your email. Many hiring managers report that if the resume and cover letter are sent as attachments, they download the resume and ignore the cover letter.

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