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Why write a cover letter if you’re giving all the details an employer needs in your resume or CV?
Because a cover letter is the written version of projecting self-confidence and capability, along with a smile and a good handshake. Recruiters and hiring managers get dozens, if not hundreds of resumes for each posting. Including a cover letter that introduces yourself gives you a great opportunity to specifically target yourself for that position, and your resume then provides the extensive evidence to back up your cover letter. A cover letter is your first chance to make an impression on the hiring manager or recruiter, and a carefully researched and crafted letter is an excellent way to make sure that first impression is a great one.
Follow these tips from the Capella University Career Center for writing an effective and memorable cover letter.
Step 1: Craft the perfect introduction
It all starts with the intro. Specifically name the position you’re applying for, tell them why you’re interested, and what would make you a good fit for the role. Don’t worry about being too detailed—that’s what the resume is for. The introduction in the letter is a way to create a solid connection that makes the reader want to continue reading.
Step 2: Let your skills and experience shine
Here is where you get to dive in to the qualities and skillsets you could bring to the position. Be sure to detail how your past experience is relevant to the position you’re applying for. While you want to keep the cover letter fairly short, it’s fine to use more than one paragraph for the body. When writing this section, consider these tips:
Step 3: Creating a memorable conclusion
This is not the time to showcase humility. You need to end with why you (and only you) are the best choice for the position. Strengthen the closing by including:
How to customize your cover letter
When you tailor the content of your cover letter to address the organization’s needs and requirements, you stand out as an applicant and demonstrate that you have sincere interest in the position. Here are some techniques for customizing your cover letter to a specific job.
How to format your cover letter
The nitty-gritty details matter. A properly formatted cover letter demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail. Keep these factors in mind when composing your letter.
How to proofread your cover letter
No matter how good your cover letter is, if it’s riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, it will hurt more than help. A thorough proofreading is critical.
When proofreading your cover letter, look at whether it:
It can be difficult to proofread your own work. If you’re worried that you’ll miss something, find someone in your network that can be a trusted resource to lend a pair of helping eyes.
Repeat for each job you apply for
Once you have the process down, you should be able to relatively easily customize your cover letter for each new position you apply for. Be careful to proofread more than once, so that you don’t mistakenly tell Google how much you’re looking forward to joining the Yahoo team. It’s an investment of time and effort up front, but in the end, a polished, error-free cover letter is vital to a successful job search.
Want feedback on your cover letter? Capella University students and alumni enjoy free, lifetime access to the Capella Career Center for career planning and advice.