5 steps to writing a successful cover letter
If you're wondering how to write a cover letter, this easy-to-follow five-step formula offers helpful tips.
Caroline M.L. Potter, Monster contributor
When applying to online jobs, most folks put (or should put) a lot of effort into writing a resume that conveys their talents and breadth of experience. But these same people often drop the ball when it comes time to write a cover letter.
This can be a costly error.
If your resume gets you in the door, your cover letter is what prompts employers to answer that door in the first place.
If you're intimidated by writing a cover letter, don't be. Job-search expert Deborah Brown-Volkman has an easy-to-follow, five-step formula for cover letter success.
Tips to write a cover letter
- Cut to the chase: Brown-Volkman reminds applicants to begin their cover letter by clearly identifying why they're reaching out to a company. "Start by completing the statement, 'I am writing to you today because....'" Cover all pertinent facts, such as the position's title and location. Also include up front where you saw the ad for the position and who recommended you, she says.
- What I like about you: Brown-Volkman says that flattery will get you everywhere. "Next, complete the statement 'I like your company because....' Compliment the organization on what they have done right and what you admire about them. This will show that you've taken the time to get to know the company in detail," she says.
- What you'll like about me: Brown-Volkman urges job seekers to list their most vital qualifications. "Now, tell the employer, 'Here are relevant examples of work that I've done that match what you're looking for.'" Briefly discuss the items you want to showcase so a hiring manager can spot them easily. "Bullet points work well in making your accomplishments easy to read," she says.
- What else you'll like about me: Now, succinctly, personalize your letter. "Describe who you are and what makes you stand out from other applicants," says Brown-Volkman. "Discuss your soft skills and strengths and what you're passionate about professionally." Research the company's mission statement to see if your values match up and use similar language. "This is your last chance to say, 'Here's why I am a good candidate,'" she says.
- And in conclusion: In your closing paragraph, Brown-Volkman recommends expressing your enthusiasm for a position and an interview and to include a plan of action. "Make note of your contact information and state what the next steps will be," she says. "If you will wait for their reply, tell them that. If you will be following up, tell them when they can expect to hear from you." Don't drop the ball on your first promise to a potential employer, though. "Whatever you put down, make sure you do what you say you will do," she says.
Resume and Cover Letter Writing Guide
Resumes and cover letters alone won't get you a job; rather, they'll help you win an interview. Here is comprehensive information that will guide you through the process of writing a targeted resume and cover letter.
What's the Difference?
What should you communicate on a resume versus a cover letter? Before you begin, review the key differences between the two and information on what each should focus on.
Keep in mind that the more specifically you can tailor your resume and cover letter to address the requirements of the position, the better your chances of earning an interview.
Below you'll find step-by-step information on how to create your resume, along with formatting tips and insight into which words to use, and which words to avoid. The guide also features techniques for writing cover letters that showcase your accomplishments and form a clear connection between your experience and the position you are applying for. If you follow these steps, you'll have a better chance of securing job interviews.
How to Build Your Resume
Before delving into writing a resume, ask yourself some basic questions that will shape your direction. Are you seeking an entry-level job? Changing careers? Are you re-entering the workforce after a lengthy time off? The first step to writing an eye catching resume is determining what you're trying to accomplish.
While you might not include an "Objective" section on your resume, write one for yourself to serve as a guiding principle for your overall resume.
Build a Resume in 7 Easy Steps
Build your own professional resume quickly and easily with this step-by-step guide. It will guide you through every step of the resume writing processing.
Resume Writing Techniques
A resume includes information on your education, work history, and skills. Get started writing your resume by creating a list of your accomplishments in each job that you have held. From there, you can decide which details are most important to highlight and work on phrasing information in a way that will get the attention of both hiring managers and searchable databases.
Get inspiration for your own resume by reviewing these sample resumes, including chronological, functional, and mini, as well as templates for resume writing.
How to Write a Cover Letter
A cover letter typically accompanies each resume you send out. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview and having your resume ignored. Where a resume focuses on your work experience and accomplishments, a strong cover letter will make a connection between what the company needs and what you can offer.
The body of your lettertells the employer what position you're applying for, why the company should select you for an interview, and how you will follow-up. Grab the reader in your first paragraph with some specific information about the job you're seeking and a few core strengths that demonstrate your suitability for the position.
The delve into what you have to offer the employer by highlighting examples of the work performed and achieved results. Detail your knowledge of the company based on your research and the ways in which you can contribute to their goals, and finally, close the letter by suggest a meeting or next steps.
Cover Letter Writing Tips
It makes sense to devote the necessary time and effort to write an effective, targeted cover letter. Your letter should convey how your skills and accomplishments will benefit the company.
Types of Cover Letters
There are several different types of cover letters, including application letters, inquiry letters, referral cover letters, and prospecting letters. Here's where you'll be able to see examples of different kinds of cover letters used to apply for jobs or inquire about jobs.
You'll also find information about when to use different letters.
Cover Letter Examples
With about 100 sample cover letters and templates to choose from, this will help you write the perfect cover letter for your situation, regardless of your occupation and employment situation.
The End Game
Once you've finished perusing the step-by-step guide, you'll have a resume and cover letter(s) which will be polished, professional, and ready to send to prospective employers.