Writing a cover letter does not have to be a pain-staking process. Perhaps it is the pressure of writing a perfect letter that makes the task so overwhelming. So, how do you write a captivating letter without pulling your hair out in frustration? Break it down into these simple steps.
Start Strong: The opening paragraph.
- Start your letter with your credentials that shows you are a strong match for the job.
- Express your interest in the company. Specifically recognize a new product, client, or development.
- Mention a common connection, for example someone who referred you to the position.
Prove Yourself: The middle paragraph.
- Examine your career history and make note of specific accomplishments that are relevant to the opportunity.
- Streamline that list of accomplishments to four or five of the best examples from your recent history. You may use a paragraph for this mid-section. Or, you may opt for a list of four to five bulleted statements.
- Quantify your results and the scope of your responsibilities with actual dollar figures, percentages, or numbers.
Make a Call to Action: The closing paragraph.
- Start this last paragraph with a one-line statement articulating the value you offer the company.
- State that your résumé accompanies the cover letter.
- Write when you are going to make a follow-up call.
- Don’t forget a simple, “thank you,” as in “Thank you for your time and consideration.”
It is not necessary to write the “next great American cover letter.” What you need is a concise, cohesive letter that covers why you are special, why you are a match, and the next step. The secret is to research the company and position so you can identify elements of your history to demonstrate you are an exceptional candidate. You will find that writing of the letter flows naturally after the research and brainstorming process. For more information on cover letters, read these blog entries: “Include a Cover Letter with Your Résumé” and “A Cover Letter is Not Optional.”