The Art of the Cover Letter

by - The Net's Premier Resume Writing and Editing Service

Hiring managers often receive hundreds, or even thousands, of applications for a given job. To avoid having your resume sink in a sea of paper or electronic files, it’s essential to write a cover letter that stands out and makes a great first impression.

Here’s how:

Rule #1: Keep Up Appearances
Your resume and cover letter must be aesthetically pleasing and consistent in appearance. This includes formatting with the same heading and fonts in each and using a high-quality printer and paper, if documents are being "snail mailed."

Also, keep it tasteful and save the designer stationery and stylish fonts for writing letters to friends. A professional employment package never sets a casual tone.

Rule #2: Target Your Audience
Always use the hiring manager’s name in the salutation. If the contact’s name isn’t provided in the job posting, a bit of Internet research or a well-structured phone call can produce results. In using the contact’s name, the cover letter is personalized, while also showing your interest in the company. Remember, a letter addressed "Dear Sir or Madam" or worse, "To Whom It May Concern," has the same impact as one addressed "Dear Occupant."

Rule #3: Craft a Strong Opening Statement
A dynamic opening paragraph is essential to capture and retain a hiring manager’s interest. For a quick and effective read, it should include a reference to the position sought and a brief statement as to why you are qualified to fill the job. Emphasis should be placed on what you can do for the company, while also providing quantifiable proof.

Rule #4: Showcase Your Accomplishments
Include a bulleted area to emphasize accomplishments pertinent to your targeted job. Not only does this break up large blocks of text that can be daunting to read, but it also draws the eye toward the most important part of the cover letter — what you have to offer.

Rule #5: Create a Proactive Closing
Always initiate further action at the end of a cover letter. A proactive closing indicates that you will call within a few days to see if a time might be scheduled to meet. To wait for a hiring manager to take that first step is to risk losing the opportunity to another candidate. If a job description asks that you not call, however, it’s in your best interest to respect their wishes.

The goal of your cover letter is simple: to convince a hiring manager to read your resume. Follow these simple rules and you’ll be sure to create a compelling letter that will leave a hiring manager wanting more.