5 Qualities That Are Part of Every Successful Cover Letter

Kellie Hanna, CPRW
By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert

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When hiring managers, HR pros, and recruiters spot a great cover letter, they get excited about the attached resume and their bar of expectation tends to rise. They develop an unconscious (and sometimes completely conscious) bias in favor of the applicant, and before they read even one word of the resume, they’re already rooting for this candidate and hoping that her credentials will further support a pitch that’s already starting off on the right foot.

So which cover letters are most likely to generate this positive bias? Below are a few moves that can help you win managers over before they even open your resume file. Improve your chances of hitting the mark with your cover letter by using our professional Cover Letter Builder, which offers a wide selection of cover letter templates to use, plus expert text help with each section of the letter.

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Great cover letters tend to share the following qualities:

1. They’re friendly and confident.

Imagine walking into a room and greeting your reader in person. You want this person to like you, and you want to demonstrate that you like yourself, you know what you want, you know who you are, and you’re a well-adjusted, confident, trustworthy person. You convey these traits by making direct eye contact, smiling, and reaching out for a handshake.

Your letter will need to send the same message within the first few lines. Don’t be wooden, awkward, or apologetic. Just state the name of the position you want and how you found out about it, and do so in a tone that’s friendly and forward.

2. They address the position directly and they stay on message.

You may be a smart person, or an interesting person, or a fun person, and these traits may suit the culture of the company and encourage managers to hire you. But keep your self-description focused on the needs of the position and the company. Explain who you are while also explaining how your personality traits and background can specifically benefit your employers. See our guide on basic cover letters for tips on succinctly expressing what skills you’ll bring to the table.  

3. They enlighten; they don’t confuse.

Effective writing is clear and easy to understand. When you finish your first draft, go back and check every individual sentence to make sure it 1) makes sense 2) contains both a subject and an object 3) stays relevant to the overall message. Sometimes in their eagerness to impress, candidates let grammatical issues and clarity fall through the cracks or get buried in a sea of buzzwords.

4. They answer four questions.

Every effective cover letter provides an answer to these four questions: 1.) Is the candidate prepared to handle the daily requirements of the job? 2.) Does the candidate really want the job? 3.) Will the candidate fit in and adapt to this company’s culture? And 4) Will the candidate actually move the company forward instead of just offering the minimum and holding down the fort?

For additional guidance, check out our guide on what to include in a cover letter for a job.

5. They know when to wrap it up.

Great cover letters find a way to present a complete and compelling message in a short space. Try to keep your letter under 300 words (or a single page), and find a way to make sure those 300 words contain the key points of your candidacy and provide your readers with everything they need to make an informed decision. Explore the best AI cover letter generators and use one to craft a compelling cover letter in a matter of minutes. 

For tools and guidelines that can keep your message on track and help you summarize, explain, reassure and dazzle your potential employers, turn to MyPerfectResume’s cover letter builder.

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