While many applications will say that they’re optional, overall employers agree that a great cover letter helps an applicant stand out from the pack. They can take some time to craft and edit, but will pay off in the long run. Here are some tips on making your cover letter great.
1. Customize your cover letter to each employer. Once you’ve drafted a basic letter, be sure to add information specific to the position you’re applying for. No one likes a cookie-cutter cover letter.
2. Address it to the right person. Do your research and be sure to address your cover letter to the hiring manager or CEO- whatever applies to the job you’re seeking. “To Whom It May Concern” might sound professional, but it also sounds impersonal.
3. Take your time. Don’t rush it. A good cover letter takes time. Set aside a bit of time each day to work on your cover letter. If you spread out the work, it will allow you to look at your work with fresh eyes every day.
4. Have someone else take a look. Another pair of eyes will not only help you avoid spelling and grammar errors, it will also give you more feedback about other things to include that you might have forgotten.
5. When it comes to your skills, don’t hold back. Now is not the time to be bashful. It’s okay to toot your own horn in a cover letter. It’s important to employers to hire people who are confident in their skills.
6. Keep it short and sweet. Research shows that employers don’t want to read a long cover letter. Condense it to one typewritten page, and you’re golden.
7. Keep it conservative in appearance. Now’s not the time to bust out some crazy margins and funky fonts. Times New Roman in 12-point is a solid choice.
8. Include relevant and professional contact information. Seems like a no-brainer, but be sure to include an email address that you’ll actually check. In this day and age, many of us have lots of email addresses, so choose one that you check regularly. On the other hand, if your email address is cheeky, silly or offensive, now’s a good time to change it to something a bit more professional.
9. Research the company culture. This is key. Visit the website or the company’s Facebook or Twitter page to get a feel for the way that employees communicate. Use this knowledge to your advantage when writing your cover letter.
10. Encourage the reader to look at your resume. Usually, you will submit both a resume and cover letter to any job you apply for. If you apply online, make a note in your cover letter that you’ve also attached a resume for their perusal.