Writing an excellent resume can certainly help you score a great job, but what sets you apart from the pack more than anything else is the ability to write a cover letter that shows your future employer exactly why you are the perfect person to fill the position. Even if the job posting lists it as optional, including a quality cover letter can be the essential component that helps you stand out. Here are a few secrets to the art of writing a cover letter:
1. Customize the salutation
Instead of the standard “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern,” take the time to do your research and address your cover letter to the hiring manager or person most likely to be reading your application. A generic salutation may signal laziness to potential employers. If you can’t find a name to address your letter to, skip the salutation altogether.
2. Don’t regurgitate your resume
You will be sending your cover letter with your resume (or attaching it to the same email) so don’t write it as if it were your resume in paragraph format. Research the company and industry you are applying for and use this opportunity to demonstrate your expertise while elaborating on your previous experiences.
3. Be concise
A cover letter should never be more than one page. Ideally, keep it to three paragraphs: introduce yourself, explain why you are the best candidate for the job and what your value would be to the company, and end with a call to action. If you want the hiring manager to actually read your cover letter, less is more.
4. Sell yourself
Use this opportunity to sell yourself. A great cover letter proves that you are the ideal candidate for the job and reveals more about your personality and interest in the field than your resume can. Prove that you have the skills and passion to make an excellent contribution.