Oh, the dreaded cover letter. You’ve polished your resume, got your secondary materials (writing samples, portfolio, etc) polished and ready to go, and now you’ve got to write this opening essay that says… what?
The point of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to the company that you’re applying to. Your resume will go into detail about your experience. Your cover letter should give the reader a sense of who you are and what you’ll contribute to the company.
SavvySugar has got seven tips for perfecting your cover letter. Here are a few tips that stand out to us:
Don’t send a generic letter. Create a unique letter for each job application. Every company is different so your approach should also be different.
Give the reader a glimpse of your personality. Again, your skills will be laid out on the resume. Use your cover letter to show your sunny personality, your determination, and other character traits that a company will also value. At the same time, focus on how those traits will benefit your prospective employer. They want to know what they get out of having you around.
Don’t write a novel. An overly-long cover letter is guaranteed to be one that won’t get read. Edit yourself for grammar and length. SavvySugar suggests four paragraphs, ample space to make a good case for yourself.
To this list, we’d add three things:
Have fresh eyes look at your letter. After staring at something you’ve written for a while, you stop seeing the ways it can be improved. Typos might even get past you. Walk away from the letter and come back to take one more look.
Enlist a friend’s help. If your writing skills are a little lacking, ask a friend with a better way with words to take a look at your letter before sending it.
Don’t use an “overly salesy opener.” This piece of advice comes by way of U.S. News & World Report and it’s a good one. Starting your letter with some variation of “I’m the best thing since sliced bread” is a turn-off. Why are you so great? Let the rest of your letter answer that question.