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How to Write an Outstanding Cover Letter

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Your cover letter is your written introduction to a potential employer. You use it to entice hiring professionals into reading your resume. Most good job openings draw a huge flurry of applications, so your cover letter must be outstanding to attract attention. You must craft it with as much care as you write your resume and make it error-free so that you look like a desirable applicant. You will have a good chance at scoring an interview if it piques the reader's interest and your resume is as outstanding as the letter.

Address your cover letter to a specific hiring professional at each company to which you submit it. Mediocre cover letters start with generic salutations like "Dear Human Resources Director." JobStar Central, a library-based job search site, explains that outstanding cover letters are personalized. This shows that you took the time to research each company, rather than sending resumes and letters blindly.

Customize your cover letters to mention accomplishments that are meaningful to each company or industry, JobStar recommends. This catches the eye of hiring professionals because it shows that you know the industry and have past accomplishments that can make you a valued employee.

Cite specifics in your cover letter instead of mentioning vague skills or accomplishments. For example, don't say, "I was a top salesperson at my last job." State, "I was the top salesperson of the year out of 30 salespeople, selling over $750,000 worth of products." Hiring professionals are attracted to verifiable facts.

Write the cover letter in a natural way, as though you are speaking to the hiring professional. Many cover letters are written in a stiff, formal style. The most outstanding letters flow naturally in a way that mimics normal conversation and gives a sense of your personality, according to the University of Wisconsin Writing Center. Read the letter out loud, and rewrite any parts that sound awkward.

Proofread your cover letter, then have someone else check it for mistakes before you send it. JobStar warns that even one mistake can turn off a hiring professional. You may skip over errors yourself because you are so familiar with the letter. Someone who reads it for the first time is much more likely to catch spelling mistakes, typographical errors and other problems.

Tip

The University of Wisconsin Writing Center advises limiting your cover letter to one page. Human Resources departments tend to be busy and may toss aside long correspondence without fully reading it. A short, to-the-point cover letter is more likely to be read and seriously considered.

About the Author

Based in Kissimmee, Fla., Barb Nefer is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience. She is a mental health counselor, finance coach and travel agency owner. Her work has appeared in such magazines as "The Writer" and "Grit" and she authored the book, "So You Want to Be a Counselor."

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