Never, ever submit a resume without a cover letter. Here’s how to write an awesome one that will help you land the job you want.

In a job market that’s more competitive than ever, it’s critical that your cover letter stand out. With the advent of online job postings, you’re competing with a more global and wide-ranging group of people, so consider the content of your cover letter carefully. And never submit a resume without one—that’s a great way to be dismissed by a recruiter for lack of effort.

Here are some pointers on how to craft the perfect cover letter:

Use details to show how your experience is relevant

Make points in your cover letter that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. Is it a marketing job? Specify the roles you’ve played and tasks you’ve undertaken that make you a qualified candidate.

If your cover letter looks like a template, the recruiter will likely feel you aren’t making an effort, and the letter probably won’t speak to why you’d be a great fit for the job you’re applying to.

Give it personality

Avoid sounding monotonous or boring in your cover letter; recruiters will assume you’re like that in person, too. Be excited about the position (but avoid using exclamation points), and be inspired by the work you would do for the company.

Be confident

Sign the letter “I look forward to hearing from you” rather than “I hope to hear from you and that you think I am qualified for the role.” Assume you will hear from the company in your tone—otherwise they will sense your lack of confidence and question your qualifications.

Use proper spelling and grammar

The best way to turn off a recruiter is to use improper grammar or spelling. This says that you don’t have an eye for detail, that you don’t necessarily truly care to work at the company and that you’ll make the same kinds of mistakes when you come on board.

No one wants internal or client communications to be filled with errors; it’s bad business. To brush up on your grammar for free, check out EnglishGrammar101.com for online grammar lessons.

Allude to your network as it pertains to the job

Networking is a critical part of your job search today. If you’ve met someone within the company, reference that person and why they inspired you to apply. It helps even more if the person you’re submitting your resume to is someone you’ve met—tell them why you enjoyed meeting them and why you’d like to work with them. (Appealing to their ego doesn’t hurt!) You can network your way into the job without looking desperate.

Consider length

It’s critical that your cover letter not be too long. Keep it concise and to the point. Recruiters read so many cover letters in a day they might only skim the really long ones. You want to be heard, so keep that cover letter tight.

Before sending the letter, read it over and put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. In a sea of competitive cover letters, is this a cover letter you’d be inspired to respond to?

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who writes about everything from recruitment strategies to doctor reputation management. She is currently VP of Operations for Two Degrees, a one-for-one food bar company.

0 Comments

  1. Alex Cooper

    Totally agree with your article. Its very important to have a good cover letter and that you already mentioned in your article about grammar mistakes. http://www.scholarsjunction.com

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  3. lookingforwork

    Can you provide an example of a cover letter that you like?

    • resume writers brisbane

      I agree with you, even I would like to see an example of an eye catchy cover letter.

      • Dick

        The point is recruiters don’t want to see uniform cover letters!

        Talk about yourself, your work experience and why you should be hired for the said position. That’s the only structure you should think about. Don’t be lazy!

        • resumestoyou.info

          Yes, you are absolutely right, an eye catchy cover letter is just to define the things required but in a unique way so that it doesn’t look uniform.

  4. Julie Dawn Harris

    I agree, grammatical error is a major turn off for recruiters. Your cover letter and resume should impress them. Search some sample cover letter in the internet so you’ll have the idea of making one. 🙂

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  6. Dana Leavy-Detrick

    One thing I would add, to increase the likelihood that your reader will actually open and read your cover letter, is to have an abbreviated, concise “version” of your cover letter in the email body. In other words, just a couple of lines introducing yourself, mentioning what position you’re applying to (important, as recruiters handle multiple positions), a quick reference to your qualifications as it pertains to the job opening, and a closing thanking them for their time. The idea is to compel them to want to continue reading about you. The worst is when someone sends a blank email with an attachment, or a one line body text with no information. I speak from experience when I say hiring managers are turned off by that.

  7. Career Coach, alisonelissa.com

    These were helpful tips. I enjoyed the one about leaving out exclamation points on your cover letter. 🙂

    • Operations Management Professi

      I have written many cover letters and I have always endeavoured to speak about prior experience and learning which has seen me being invited to many interviews. However the economic climate within which we live and the unethical practice of some organizations to post vacancies that has already been filled makes the task of job hunting more difficult

  8. Dick

    Great tips! Personality is huge… I read a bunch of these everyday and finding one that actually is enjoyable to read earns the applicant major points before I even look at their qualifications.

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