How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

Interviews, resumes and cover letters are just the beginning of getting a job and entering the professional world. Rest easy in the knowledge that it’s really not as challenging as it appears to be. Take a deep breath, brace yourself for that first step and run right into it!
An effective cover letter is an essential part of the job hunt. A cover letter is likely to be the first glance in your direction from a prospective employer. If you want that coveted double-take, then follow these tips:

Writing an Effective Cover Letter

  • Resist the urge to “copy and paste” a generic cover letter and slap it to your resume. Taylor a new cover letter for each opening that you apply for.
  • A cover letter should never be longer than one page. Nobody has time to read a novel when they’re looking for a new hire. In other words: Don’t be wordy.
  • It should be presented in a professional cover letter format. Use an 11 or 12 point, easily readable font such as Times New Roman.
  • Always address the manager by name. Only use “Dear Sir, Dear Madam or To Whom it May Concern” if you have no other choice.
  • The body of your letter should be about 3-4 short paragraphs. In the first paragraph, briefly introduce yourself and the position you’re applying for. In the next couple of paragraphs, discuss your qualifications and how they will contribute to the company and the position. To summarize your letter, thank the manager for their time and leave them with definitive words. Let them know when you will be following up but encourage them to contact you before that if they so desire. This is also a good discuss anything about your resume that needs an explanation.
  • Use language from the job description and mission statement to show that you researched the company.
  • Your tone should be professional and informative. You want to sound educated but don’t forget to convey an upbeat voice at the same time. The prospective employer should feel as though they need you for the position.

Editing and Proofreading

  • Use spell-check, but don’t rely on it as your sole resource for editing. Proofreading is your best friend!
  • Break down all contractions. Instead of writing “I’ll” write out the full form “I will.”
  • Once you think you’re done and you’ve edited your cover letter as many times as possible, do it once more! It also helps to have a fresh pair of eyes proofread.