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Cover Letters

Cover letters help employers assess job candidates and allow you to make a critical first impression. Effective cover letters are always tailored to the specific employer and describe how you are the answer to that hiring manager’s need, based on what you’ve learned from the job description and other information you have collected about the organization. Your cover letter can express your personality in a way that your résumé cannot, providing the employer with insight into your personality and your traits that could add value to their team.

Salutation

Address your cover letter to the specific organization and person who you believe will review your résumé, whether a hiring manager, HR manager, talent acquisition specialist, or search committee chair. Take the time to find a specific name by researching the company’s website, calling the company directly, or find a contact on LinkedIn. If you cannot obtain a name, you can always use “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Why You Are Writing

The first paragraph should state the job you are applying to, how you learned about the position, naming a networking contact (if you have one), something interesting you learned about the company, and why you are interested. Capture his or her attention; the reader should immediately understand the purpose of the letter and want to learn more about you.

What You Have to Offer

Sell yourself! Demonstrate to the reader why he or she should consider your résumé. Include a few specific accomplishments that illustrate your past performance based on requirements from the job description to highlight how your experience matches what they are seeking. Simple, declarative sentences are motivating and engage others’ imagination and desire to know more.

The Close

End your letter with a call to action, letting the reader know that you will make a follow-up call in one week to discuss the opportunity or schedule an interview. If you were advised in the posting not to call, write that you welcome an opportunity to discuss the position with an appropriate representative or you can simply write, I look forward to speaking with you during an interview. Thank the reader for his or her time and sign off with “Sincerely,” “Cordially,” or “Respectfully.”

Remember to exercise brevity and tell your career story with enthusiasm.