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Writing a Cover Letter

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About Writing a Cover Letter

Hiring managers routinely receive responses from hundreds, perhaps thousands, of applicants for any given job.

To avoid having your resume sink in this sea of paper, it's imperative that, when writing your cover letter, you make it stand out from the crowd and create a good first impression.

A compelling cover letter that follows the five essential rules below will convince a hiring manager to read your resume.

Rule #1: Cover Letter and Resume Appearance

Your cover letter and resume must be aesthetically pleasing and consistent in appearance. Use the same fonts and name and contact heading in each. Print both on a high-quality printer and the same paper, such as 20 lb, white, bond paper. Always use standard letter-size paper. When snail-mailing your resume and cover letter, use an envelope that matches the paper for a professional look.

Rule #2: Target Your Audience

A cover letter with a salutation of "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom it May Concern" has about the same appeal as junk mail with a salutation of "Dear Occupant".

Instead, write the job contact's name in the salutation of your cover letter and address it to same. If the contact's name isn't provided in the job posting, call the HR department and ask to whom to address your cover letter. You can likely find the phone number on the company's Website, if not in the local phone directory.

Rule #3: Create a Strong Opening

When writing your cover letter, a dynamic opening paragraph is essential to capture and retain a hiring manager's interest. Pare it down to basics for a quick and effective read, by including a reference to the position you seek and a brief statement as to why you are qualified for the job.

Always place emphasis on what you can do for the company when writing your cover letter, while also providing quantifiable proof.

Rule #4: Showcase Your Accomplishments

Include bullet lists (•) to emphasize your accomplishments that are pertinent to the job. Not only does this break up large blocks of text that a hiring manager might find daunting, but it also draws his or her eye towards the most important part of your cover letter: what you can do for the company.

Rule #5: Create a Proactive Closing

A proactive closing indicates that you will call within a few days to schedule an interview. To wait for a hiring manager to take that first step is to risk losing the opportunity to another candidate.

See Cover Letter Samples

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