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Themes Emerge in What Employers Want to See in Cover Letters


Continuing our series excerpted from our new, free white paper, Cover Letter Reboot: A Crowdsourced Update of Traditional Cover-letter Advice for Today’s Job Search, which you can download here. If you prefer not to download, you can read the contents here. WhitePaperScreenshot.jpg Although hiring decision-makers vary wildly in what they want to see in a cover letter, some common themes emerge.

Twenty years ago, I offered a basic four-paragraph structure for a cover letter, and hundreds of career experts have suggested their own formulas and structures. In fact, when I asked hiring decision-makers what they wanted to see in a cover letter, they all said something different.

A few aspects pop up over and over, however, on employers’ wish lists: Relevant accomplishments, fit with the job, understanding of the job, personality, enthusiasm, knowledge of the employer, and consistency with resume (but not a rehash of the resume).

To see much more detail about what hiring decision-makers want to see in cover letters, check out our sidebar, Cover Letter Wish List: Hiring Decision-Makers Reveal What They Want to See in Cover Letters. See also the other parts of the white paper/Cover Letter Reboot package: Hiring Decision-Makers Cite Top Cover-Letter Mistakes that Disqualify Job-Seekers, and Cover Letters That Wowed: Hiring Decision-Makers Describe Winning Cover Letters.