10 Tips for a Great Cover Letter

At a time when over 12 million Americans are unemployed, the number of people applying for jobs is greater than the amount of jobs available. There are three steps to getting a job: submitting a résumé, submitting a cover letter and going to an interview.  An often overlooked, but very important part of this process is the cover letter. Learning how to write a compelling cover letter will make you stand out in the crowd.

Why Is a Cover Letter Important?

A cover letter is the first thing an employer sees. A cover letter tells the employer why you are interested in the position, the professional experience you have and why you think you would be perfect for the organization. The goal of the cover letter is to show the employer that you have experience in the field and enthusiasm for the job that you are applying for.

Tips on Creating a Winning Cover Letter

  1. Hiring managers spend about 15 seconds looking at a cover letter and a resume. Make sure the first sentence of your cover letter is interesting and will grab the attention of the person reading it.
  2. Ensure that your grammar and spelling are correct. Use spell check and have a friend or a relative proofread your letter before you send it. You can go to the library and check out a book on grammar or visit GrammarBook, an online guide to grammar.
  3. Research the position you are applying for. Incorporate the goals of the organization into your cover letter. For example, if you are applying to work at a book publishing company that believes in producing high quality material and to get people interested in reading, mention your commitment to doing good work and your natural passion for books. Employers love when applicants shows that they’ve done their homework on the company or organization.
  4. Make sure that the contact information at the top of your cover letter is correct.
  5. Keep the cover letter to no more than ONE PAGE. No one wants to read a novel. It should be clear, concise and short.
  6. The cover letter should be typed. Use 12 point font and make it single spaced. Margins at the sides and the bottom should be no less than ½ inch.
  7. The content of the letter should highlight your professional background and qualifications, but refer the employer to your actual resume for more detail.
  8. The tone of the letter should be proactive. Tell the employer, in the last paragraph, that you look forward to hearing from them about how you could be a great part of their organization.
  9. If you do not hear from the employer in a week, give them a call to inquire about the position.
  10. Check out Bucknell’s cover letter checklist to make sure that you follow all of the key steps before submitting it.

Get Job Search Help at Goodwill

Goodwills across the country provide guidance and resources on résumé and cover letter writing, as well as tips on how to make you more marketable to make a great first impression.  For more information:
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