You’ve just found a job posting that’s absolutely perfect for you. You have all the required experience and skills, the company looks great, and the salary is attractive.

Got your resume all polished up? Great! But before you apply, take time to learn how to write a cover letter that will catch the recruiter’s attention.

1. Get Off to a Good Start

It’s worth taking the time to research who’s going to read your cover letter, so that you can address it directly, but use caution. A female manager or HR director might not take kindly to a cover letter that starts out “Dear Sir” — or worse, “Dear Mr. Jones.”

If you don’t know the contact person’s gender, either use their full name or go with a gender-neutral greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager.” Otherwise, you risk having your application deleted before it has even been read.

2. Tell Them Why You Are the Perfect Fit

Your resume outlines the educational background and professional experience you would bring to the position, so don’t waste the recruiter’s time reiterating that information.

Instead, explain how your previous accomplishments will help you achieve the stated objectives of the position. Use statements like “With 5 years of experience as a sales professional, I will grow revenue for your company,” or “My interpersonal skills and ability to multitask make me an ideal candidate for the receptionist position.”

This means you should tailor the cover letter to each individual position you’re applying for. Recruiters can spot a form letter a mile away.

3. Mirror Their Language

Many larger companies now use software to screen applications before they’re even sent to actual recruiters.

To maximize your chances of getting through this first filter, check the job posting for keywords, and use those keywords in your cover letter (and resume). If one requirement is “supervisory experience,” or proficiency in “Final Cut Pro,” for example, make sure to mention those terms.

Other, broader keywords that may help include descriptors such as “self-starter,” “team player,” “enthusiastic,” or even “passionate.”

A good way to get an idea of the qualities a company values is to look at its mission statement or the About Us page.

4. Keep It Professional

If you’re wondering how to write a cover letter that’s attention-grabbing, you might be considering using emojis, images, or even GIFs. Don’t. Seriously, don’t do it.

Save these for your social media. A cover letter shouldn’t include anything except plain words.

Similarly, resist the temptation to write a “listicle”-style cover letter (“9 Reasons to Hire Me: Number 3 Will Astonish You”), one written in rhyming couplets, or a humorous explanation of how broke you are at this point in your job search.

Flaky approaches like this will help your cover letter stand out — but not in a good way.

5. Do Not Overdo It

You know how your eyes glaze over when you see a text-heavy article? Recruiters’ eyes do the same when they get a cover letter that’s full of dense paragraphs.

Remember that the cover letter, along with your resume, is meant to land you an interview — not substitute for one. So keep your cover short, sweet, and to the point.

If you’re qualified for the position, and you can convey that, you may get a chance to sell yourself in person.

Have Questions about How to Write a Winning Cover Letter?

Still unsure of how to write a cover letter that will land you that dream job? Do you need help making your resume pitch-perfect, contact us for help!

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