Constructing the Perfect Cover Letter

Business owners and human resource directors weed through hundreds, even thousands of resumes – all from eager job candidates vying for the same position. All are reasonably qualified with bachelor degrees, with over half of them possessing multiple degrees and MBAs. So how do you stand out among a deep, talented pool of candidates? It all starts with a Good Cover Letter. Make that a knock-out cover letter!

Cover Letters are the first impressions job candidates make when meeting employers. Although brief (it should be no more than one page), a cover letter serves as an introduction to who you are and what you're all about. A resume will highlight accolades and education, but your cover letter needs to highlight YOU. Separate yourself from the pack with these Cover Letter Tips.

  1. Be personable. Don't just say 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Madam.' Find out who the director of human resources is or the CEO of the company. It may take some phone calls, but this shows that you've done your homework and are willing to go the extra mile. Still keep things formal with 'Dear Mr Jones.'
  2. You want to be personable in addressing your letter, but also in addressing the qualities that make you a good job candidate. There's nothing worse than a bland cover letter that makes you sound like a robot. What fuels you as a person? Why did you get into this profession? Is it because you're passionate about what you do? Is it your tireless work ethic? Is it an overwhelming desire to help others and make an impact? How will these qualities benefit this company?
  3. Nix the clichés in Cover Letter Writing. How many times do you think employers hear the word 'detail-oriented?' It's straight-from-the-book of 'Sleep Therapy 101 for CEOs.' Don't put your prospective employer to sleep! Wow him or her with words that aren't used often in resume cover letters, such as 'highly-imaginative' and 'tireless workhorse.' Sure they mean the same as 'creative' and 'energetic,' but they convey a much greater sense of you as an individual human being and what makes you tick. You can, however, use industry-related keywords pertaining to Job Skills Employers Look For. Just don't overdo it.
  4. Do not mention salary history or make unsolicited salary requests (unless you view your career as a flea market). It comes across as being way too upfront, and suggests pay is the only thing you care about. Often, employers will start new employees out at a lower rate, providing incentives and bonuses based on performance. So you may have to contend with lower pay initially, but it could be worth it in the end as both you and the company will grow.
  5. End your letter memorably with proactive closing, such as 'I look forward to meeting with you soon,' or 'Please let me know when would be a good time to meet with you to discuss your company,' (be sure to include the name of the company).

After you've finished constructing a cover letter, don't be afraid to ask people for opinions, such as a mentor or friend familiar with your industry or even the company you're applying to. Ask them, "Does this sound like me, and does this sound like it fits this company?"

It's also a good idea to take both your cover letter and resume to a Professional Resume Writers Service. A resume writing service can proof-read your cover letter and resume identifying not just spelling errors (that's what spell-check is for!) but possible weaknesses in the overall structure. Perhaps a stronger call to action is needed to convince the employer that you're right for the job, or maybe your resume is just too long and you need help eliminating unnecessary words or even sections.

However you decide to construct and edit your cover letter, remember that ultimately it needs to be about you and no one else. Be genuine and authentic. Nobody likes a phony. That will wow potential employers more than an embezzled list of accolades any day.