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How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

You’ve found what seems to be the perfect job opening and you’re ready to submit your application along with a cover letter.  So, how do you go about writing the cover letter to make sure your resume and application get the attention they deserve?

Writing an effective cover letterFirst of all, what is a cover letter?   More often than not, rather than an actual hard-copy letter, it’s an email note from you to the recruiter or Human Resources Department of the actual employer.  In most cases it is accompanied by your resume and perhaps an application.  Often, an on-line job application process includes the ability to download your resume as well as a cover letter.

Keep in mind that it’s just that, a cover.  As such, it shouldn’t be so long that a recipient gets bored or doesn’t feel the need to turn the page, but it also needs to contain enough compelling content so that the recipient will want to open up your resume and job application for a closer look.

Here are a few tips for writing an effective cover letter:

  1. Start by asking yourself if there’s a more personalized way to make an initial introduction of yourself to the recruiter or employer.  You might have a friend or family member that knows someone in the company who can put you in touch with the decision maker.  Rather than sending a “cold” cover note, it’s always better to place a call beforehand with an introduction such as, “I was talking the other day with Joan Stafford from your company and she mentioned that I should get in touch with you about a job opportunity you have available.”  This approach establishes a common link and helps your follow-up cover letter and resume to have a better chance of reaching the intended recipient.
  2. Whenever possible, address the cover letter with an actual name and title.  You may have to do some digging (such as calling the HR office) to get that information, but it shows initiative and will have a better chance of impressing the recipient.
  3. Make sure you include the specific position for which you are applying in the opening sentence.  Likely, the organization is seeking out candidates for multiple job openings.  Avoid any potential confusion.
  4. When listing your accomplishments and experience, include the ones that demonstrate your qualifications in the same order as the requirements listed in the job description.  For instance, if the first and second job requirements are having a four-year college degree and a minimum of five years of experience in the specified industry, those should be your first two qualifications you list on your cover letter.
  5. Beyond helping the person screening applications to know you have the minimum qualifications necessary for the job, convey your enthusiasm and other reasons that make you a promising candidate for the job.  Don’t go overboard here, but make sure that you set yourself apart from other applicants in a meaningful, believable and wholehearted way.
  6. Reference your attached resume.   “My attached resume provides additional details that further demonstrates an excellent fit between my experience and the qualifications you seek in a candidate.”
  7. Try to keep the cover letter to a length that would fit on one page if it were typed out.
  8. Be sure to include your name and contact information on the page. The resume and the cover letter may get printed out and separated.   Make it easy for others to get in touch with you.
  9. Close with a note of appreciation and expectation.  For instance, “I appreciate your consideration of my qualifications for the position and I look forward to talking with you soon.”
  10. Proofread and pray before hitting the send button.

By Keith Lundquist

For more blogs and related resources on building your faith during a job search, go to www.FaithBetweenJobs.com

 

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