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When you apply for a job, your resume is the most important part of your application. But your resume may not be enough to get you an interview – you’ll also need a great cover letter. A well-written cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and passing it over.
But writing a great cover letter can be tricky. There are a lot of things to avoid, and if you make one mistake, it can cost you the job.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide on the do’s and don’ts of writing a cover letter. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about what to include in your letter, how to format it, and how to make sure it catches your eye.
What should you include in your letter?
Your cover letter should be very similar to your resume. It should include information about your education, work history, and skills that make you a good candidate for the job. But there are some things you want to include in your letter that won’t go on on your resume.
Here are a few things you’ll want to include in your cover letter:
At the beginning of your cover letter, you should include your first and last name, along with your mailing address, email address, and phone number. Listing the city in which you currently live may be useful if the company is located near several cities. If you are emailing your cover letter, you must include “email” in place of your phone number.
The position you are applying for
At the beginning of your cover letter, it’s a good idea to mention the job you’re applying for and how you learned about it. For example, “I am writing in response to a recent graphic designer position posted on Monster.com. I saw your post on the CareerBuilder job board, and am very interested in applying for this position.” If you are not sure what job you are applying for, it is a good idea to contact the company and find out.
The skills you have that match the job requirements
You should mention the skills you possess that make you a good candidate for the job. In your cover letter, tell them how your skills align with what they are looking for in the ideal candidate. If you do not know exactly what kind of skills they are looking for, it is better not to speculate. Alternatively, you could say something like, “I believe I have the skills to successfully complete this job. Please look at my attached resume for more details.”
The opening paragraph of your cover letter should be very similar to the opening paragraph on your resume, but it should be less formal. The point of the cover letter is to introduce yourself and explain why you are a good candidate, so the tone should be more conversational. For example, instead of “I am writing to apply for a job as a graphic designer,” you could say, “Hi! My name is John Doe and I am a graphic designer looking for new opportunities.”
The closing paragraph of your cover letter should outline your interest in the position, and you should thank the reader for taking the time to consider your application.
In addition to including information about you, you should also include information about how they help their company. Think of this as a “presentation” – what are some projects you think you could take on for this company? What can you do for them that other candidates can’t?
What not to include in your cover letter
Your cover letter should focus. Don’t ramble on casual topics, and don’t include anything unrelated to the job you’re applying for. For example, if the employer is looking for a candidate with strong graphic design skills, don’t include anything about your love of cooking.
Cover letter should be no more than one page in length. If you’re having trouble fitting everything onto one page, you may want to cut out some sections, like your work history.
Finally, there are a few things you should definitely not include in your cover letter:
Spelling and grammatical errors Inappropriate email address, such as a joke or slang reference to a former employer referring to your personal life, such as the fact that you are currently unemployed. If hiring managers see this, they may assume that you have been consistently unemployed for some time. Even if it isn’t, this is information that does not belong in your cover letter.
If you think your cover letter might need some work before it’s ready to go online, ask a friend to read it and provide feedback. They can point out any spelling or grammatical errors, as well as offer suggestions on what to change.
One great way to create job application letters is to use Venngage – an online infographic maker that offers a wide range of free cover letter templates for all the job seekers out there.
Here are some cover letter examples from their website!
Now, once you’ve made the appropriate changes, it’s time to publish your cover letter and resume online. Use keywords related to the job you are applying for to improve your search results when hiring managers use a search engine to find candidates.
Hiring managers often offer an application if they receive a resume and cover letter from a candidate they like. This is why writing a good cover letter can dramatically improve your chances of getting an interview and getting the job – even if you’re not at the top of their list in terms of qualifications. If you’re ready to get started, just click here.