How to Write an Effective Cover Letter
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How to Write an Effective Cover Letter

Nearly every job application requires a cover letter — a brief one to two-page document in which you make your case in writing as to why you are the best candidate for the job opening in question. Your cover letter allows you to provide context to your career trajectory thus far, provide concrete and detailed examples of your past success, and outline how your experience to date would add value to a prospective employer.

A well-written cover letter can help you advance to the next stage of the job application process, while a poorly written one may end your chances of landing the job. But you can craft an engaging and persuasive cover letter by following these simple tips.

Tailor your cover letter

Many job candidates draft a single cover letter and use it for every job opening to which they apply. Experienced HR managers can quickly spot these generic cover letters — letters which call into question a job applicant’s desire to work for their company and, if hired, their willingness to stick around for the long-term. Take your time to research your prospective employer. Find out what their major initiatives and goals are. Use your cover letter to address how you can help them achieve their goals, given your background and experience. Incorporate facts you’ve learned about their industry, competitors, and outlook. Doing so will show that you want to work specifically for that company and demonstrate the diligence they can expect from you if hired.

Let your personality shine

Most job applicants treat cover letters as a more detailed accounting of the bullet points on their resume. But when nearly everyone does that, they fail to distinguish themselves from other job seekers. Often, the cover letters that compel a hiring manager to invite a candidate for an interview are personable, passionate, or even humorous — qualities may signal that the candidate may be a good fit for the company’s culture. Don’t let your tone undercut your professionalism. But don’t fail to showcase your personality either.

Proofread, proofread, proofread

Even a well-researched cover letter can be undercut by grammar errors and typos, which can lead hiring managers to doubt your attention to detail and communication skills. Read your cover letter out loud, use a rigorous grammar-checking software program like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, or Ginger, and have a friend or colleague with a good eye read it over as well. You can never be too careful, so make sure you review and receive your cover letter (and resume) before hitting submit.