A well-written cover letter can mean the difference between a recruiter having a favorable first impression of you and passing over your application packet entirely. The perfect cover letter includes certain specific phrases that set it apart from the typical generic letter.
1. Choose a Professional and Positive Tone
Open with a concise sentence describing your interest in the job and passion for the industry. For example, "I'd love to use my unique skills to improve environmental awareness as your new marketing intern."
2. Write Directly to the Reader
Write directly to the hiring manager by name rather than using a generic greeting. If you can't find the correct name, use a specific greeting such as, "Senior Manager Hiring Committee."
3. Tailor Your Skills to the Company
The perfect cover letter focuses on the benefits you can bring the company. "I consistently use creative analysis to ensure projects are completed on time and in budget."
4. Create a Companion to Your Resume
Your cover letter should serve as an engaging introduction to your resume. Avoid repetition and focus on a few key details such as, "I served as team leader for our first project with a national client and my team's success lead to a year-long exclusive contract."
5. Tell a Story
Highlight a career achievement through a concise story. "The customer database required manual entries and updates, so I created an automated system to save time and improve accuracy."
6. Show Quantitative Results
If possible, include a numerical result in your storytelling. "My updated payroll procedures reduced errors by 15 percent in the first year."
7. Don't Focus on Limitations
One of the fastest ways to weaken your cover letter is to apologize for skills you don't have. Rather than focusing on your shortcomings, translate your skills to the job description. "My background in reception helped me build excellent interpersonal skills with clients and executives."
8. Consider a Unique Format (Within Reason)
A nontraditional cover letter may work well in some cases. If applying to a company with a reputation for breaking convention, you could include a headline: "3 Reasons I'm an Excellent Choice for Regional Client Liaison."
9. Be Thankful
Be sure add a short, polite sentence near the closing of your letter such as, "Thank you for considering me for this position."
10. Match the Company's Voice
Read through the official website to see how the company describes itself and use that as inspiration for your writing. For example, "My entrepreneurial background honed my self-motivation and creativity," could work well for a young company focused on creating positive change.
Take it a Step Further
Following these tips for a perfect cover letter can help you create a solid, well-written document. If you want to refine your letter further, there are a few additional things you can consider. Go back through your letter objectively and ask if it seems unique and genuine. Did you fill it with overused business buzzwords such as "team player" or use generic language anywhere? If so, rewrite to make sure your voice sounds unique. This is especially wise when applying for a creative position or with a new startup company. If you have trouble reading your letter objectively, ask a friend for help to make sure you are on the right track.