The ABCs of Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

Posted: 02/25/14 | Category:

Writing the perfect cover letter is never easy.  You want to impress the company while simultaneously not coming off as a robot devoid of personality.  If you are struggling to get an interview and think the problem lies within your cover letter, follow this “ABC” guide when writing your next one.

Attract with a Strong Opening

Not every word in your cover letter will be read by the hiring manager, but you can be sure that the opening sentence will be.  You want to write a sentence that will draw in the reader and inspire him or her to continue reading down the page.

The best way to start: tailor your cover letter to the individual company (you will earn serious bonus points if you can find out who will be reading it and address it accordingly).  You want to avoid instilling a feeling that your cover letter is being sent out en masse to the entire industry, so start with something personal to the company.

Insert yourself into the company by telling them why you (and your skills) can help reach their overall goals.  Also, this is the perfect sentence to load up with keywords in case the employer is using screening software to scan cover letters.

Build with Skills and Accomplishments

The body paragraph of your cover letter is where you justify the claims that you make in your opening paragraph.  It is great to make bold claims in the first paragraph, but they will be no more than noise if you don’t back them up.
You don’t have to get creative in this part of your cover letter – it is strictly a numbers game.  Here, you should be highlighting your best accomplishments throughout your career, showcasing your skills, and backing it all up with as many numerical stats as you can.  Showing how you doubled the revenue brought in by a department is much more effective than saying that you used skills XYZ to complete projects.
Just remember to keep it relevant.  If the skill or accomplishment is of no use to the potential employer, then leave it out.

Close with a Call to Action

Every cover letter should end with you saying, “hire me” without ever using those exact words.  You want to avoid coming off as if you are selling something to them.  Your worth to the company should speak volumes through your accomplishments in the previous paragraph.

End it on a personal note.  Tell the company where you want your career to go, and how this company fits into that plan.  You want leave the hiring manager wanting to make an investment in you – one that will pay off in the end.

By Kevin Withers

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