6 Tips on Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

Because they're still important

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@SBphoto via Twenty20

There are three parts to applying for a job: fill out the application, attach a resume and write a cover letter. Filling out the application is usually the easiest part, as you’re answering questions about yourself and providing personal information. Your resume might undergo a few changes depending on how relevant your previous experience is to the job you’re applying for. The most exhausting part of applying for a job is typically cover letter writing. 

A cover letter is a document used to provide additional information about your skills and work experience. It’s your chance to tell a future employer or recruiter how you stand out from other candidates and explain your expertise in greater detail. Employers use this information to screen applicants and determine who to interview. So in other words, writing a bomb cover letter is key to getting noticed by an employer and being invited to the next round. If writing isn’t your strong suit, we’ve compiled tips and practices that can help anyone craft an attractive cover letter.

1. Don’t Reuse Cover Letters

I know, the idea of rewriting a new cover letter with every application could keep you from applying for a job altogether. It seems so much easier and quicker to change the name of the company and the job role and hit send. Even if you’re applying for multiple jobs in the same industry, recruiters can tell when a cover letter reads as reused. It’s worth the extra 15 minutes to customize the letter for that specific role. Think of it this way: It’s super obvious when you get a mass email because the verbiage reads as general. In the way you notice that email was sent to other people and only your name was swapped out, recruiters also know you’ve done the same with your cover letter.

2. Follow a Template

A strong cover letter has great flow. Using a template or outline is a simple way to structure the body of your letter, especially for those who are not compelling writers. Free templates and outlines are available online, but it’s wise not to get into the habit of using the exact wording because it’s likely that recruiters have seen them before. Instead, use them as your base and customize it appropriately.

3. Always Address Your Letter

Imagine receiving an email that doesn’t address your name before the intro. Reads kind of weird, huh? With most cover letters, you have no idea who you’re writing to. If a specific name isn’t in the job application or email address, use “Dear Hiring Team” as an opener.

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@daphneemarie via Twenty20

4. Write a Creative Lead

Imagine how many other applicants begin their letter with “This letter is in response to the XYZ position at XYZ.” To set yourself apart, you need to draw the reader in. Talk about your connection to the company or why you want to work for them. You want the recruiter to remember your lead after reading through several other applications. For example, someone applying for a role at BuzzFeed might start with: “I first discovered BuzzFeed when my college roommate forced me to take a ‘How Well Do You Know Your Roommate’ quiz with them. Since then, I’ve religiously used the site for entertainment, news and even cooking recipes.

5. Explain What You Can Do for Them

A lot of people mistakenly think that cover letters are a chance to talk only about why they want a particular job. While highlighting your reason for being interested in a company is important, a recruiter mostly wants to know how hiring you will benefit the team. Maybe you have a skill that is rare for the role, or you were responsible for building something at your previous job. Figure out how you’re the perfect fit and expand on it. Employers want to know what advantage hiring you will do for the company.

6. Proof Before Sending

Lastly, and we can’t stress this enough, proofread your letter TWICE before sending. We all make typos, and while it’s understandable, it comes across as lazy. You could be the perfect person for the job, but a minor typo will have a recruiter on to the next cover letter. A flawless cover letter showcases the time put into constructing it—something the reader will be fond of.

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