When sending job search applications, two things are critical in making a good first impression to get that coveted interview invite: your résumé and your cover letter.  Usually the recruiter or hiring manager will scan and decide in less than one minute whether you may be a good candidate for the job.    So how you write your resume and cover letter are essential.  Here are 9 cover letter help tips that anyone can follow.

Tip #1: Clear structure helps

Make sure your cover letter has a clear structure.  Every written piece should be divided in three parts: opening, body, and closure.

  • The opening should serve as an introduction of yourself, what position you are applying for and in one sentence what 3-4 skills you have that make you uniquely qualified for this particular job offering.
  • The body should state and clarify your strengths and previous experiences with respect to the position you are applying for and supports your opening – preferably one example to illustrate each skill you stated in the opening.
  • The closure should sum up what you have been writing about and ask for an interview.

Tip #2: Length is one page max

Keep it short. That means a cover letter should not be longer than a page. Better not to bore your possible future interviewee! If you have written too much, try to go back and see what information you could omit without compromising the clarity and efficacy of your letter.

Another important thing is not to “cram” your page so that you can fit more information. The layout should be clean and tidy, with spaces in between paragraphs, so as to let the reading “breathe”.

Tip #3: Use bullet points

Views are very conflicting on this regard. Personally I think bullet points can be very good and useful in a cover letter and this is why:

  • They help interrupting a stream of words and make your letter easy to read
  • The reader´s attention is better caught when he/she can skip through bullet points to find information
  • They are useful to highlight important information

I recommend using bullet points when describing previous working experiences that can be relevant to the job position you are applying for.  In this way the person reading your application letter will be driven through what is most relevant from the company’s point of view.

Tip #4: Do not repeat what is on your CV

Try to make your cover letter an add-on to your résumé. It would not make sense to repeat exactly what is on your CV in a written form.  Think about your cover letter as a way to tell a few short stories about skills / experiences listed in your resume.  Try to think what you can add that is important and useful: why are you the right person for that job, what can you contribute to the company/work of place, how did your previous experiences make you suitable for the new job, what have you learned?

Tip #5: Why do you want work for them and what can you contribute

Once again, you should focus on you strength and abilities in correlation to the job position. Provide real life examples. E.g. if you are saying that you have experience in sales, provide information of what where your biggest achievement at your last job. If you say that you have learnt to use a program, explain what did you use it for and why that would be beneficial for the job you are applying for.

Tip #6: Be focused

Since you have only one page, don’t fill it up with all the job experience you had, but try to focus on those that are really relevant for the position you are applying for. What can you contribute to the company? This is a tough question. If uncertain, re-read carefully the job ad; what kind of candidate are they looking for? What they require the candidate to have previously worked with and what will the new job tasks require?

Tip #7: Provide examples

As for your skills, if you use adjective to describe yourself explain what they mean with a useful and proper example. If you state you are social, what does it imply (e.g. you are good at working in teams), if you write you are structured and focus, how does this reflect on your job?

Are you creative? What does it mean to you? Is it a relevant attribute for the job you are applying for? Provide practical examples of your creativity!

Tip #8: Proof read

When done writing, read your letter a few times, check for spelling mistakes. Does your writing flow? Ask a friend to read it and give you feedback.

Tip #9: PDF of .DOC?!

I personally think that saving your cover letter as a pdf is better. In this way there is no chance that some info can be accidentally deleted and lost. I also think that it is a good idea to save together in the same file your resume and cover letter one after the other (in one pdf document). As human resource departments receive hundreds of application, once saved on the computer, it is easy to involuntary mix up documents or loses a file or even match the one person’s résumé with some other person’s cover letter.

To help with your resume writing, click here for Top 10 Effective Resume Tips.  Good luck with your job search!

Comments: Which above tips were the most helpful to you?  Share your comments below and feel free to ask additional questions

Guest Author:  Sara Coppola is a creative content writer within the fashion clothing industry at Miinto and is now lunching herself into freelance writing into topics like job search advice. 

This is a Guest post with edits by Lei Han. If you would like to submit a guest post to BeMyCareerCoach.com, please follow these guest post guidelines.

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